How I eliminated $170,000 of student loan debt

John Cook
9 min readAug 8, 2020

“Pay off your debt first. Freedom from debt is worth more than any amount you can earn” — Mark Cuban

July 18th, 2020, 8am pacific standard time. I no longer work at an office, my commute has been reduced from a 1 hour CalTrain ride to a 30 second walk from my bedroom to my home office. I log into my Earnest student loan portal, something that I do every morning, to check the payoff balance of my student loans, originally $170,000. Every login, every day, I cringe a bit, reminded of the poor decisions I made while in school. Reminded of how easy it was to apply for and be approved of over $170,000 of unsubsidized student loans. 100% digital. But on July 18th, 2020, something special happened that day. July 18th, 2020 is a day I will never forget. Because on July 18th, 2020:


For the first time in my life, for the first time in my wife’s life, we became 100% debt free. We owe no one nothing. The borrower is not slave to the lender in my house. The feeling was amazing. When we went to the grocery store on July 18th, 2020, the food tasted better, the sun shined brighter, the insanity of a COVID filled world didn’t seem to matter as much, because for the first time in our life, we didn’t have to worry about our…