At the beginning, DeGisi was only putting an extra $50 a month or so on top of his monthly payments. Progressively, he escalated his attack on the debt. “My income was increasing over time and I just got more comfortable with my payments,” DeGisi says. Eventually, he was paying an extra $200 a month. His repayment scheme targeted the 8% federal loans first. “It didn’t make sense to me that I should be carrying debt at that high of an interest rate,” he says.
Bonuses and restricted stock grants went toward the debt. “The key is not relying on that income for your living expenses if you can avoid it,” he says. His plan required fairly strict attention to thrift. “It’s things like you don’t take an extravagant vacation, you do a long weekend,” he says. “My then girlfriend, now wife, when she would visit we would go take a drive and do something that wasn’t very expensive, but still fun. We would up to Marin, north of San Francisco, or we would go get oysters north of the city, or we would drive to Mendocino. We did that for probably the first few years, versus taking any extravagant vacations.”
DeGisi had hunted hard for budget-friendly accommodation in San Francisco. “It was all Craigslist and just calling people up while I was still at school trying to find a place that I could afford that was dog friendly,” says DeGisi, who finally found a studio where he and his puggle Hudson could dwell.”You don’t get probably the largest apartment you can afford,” DeGisi says. “I mostly did cook at home. I was not going out to fancy dinners or going out a ton. Part of that is budget, part of that is you’re coming out of s school, you have a new job. You want to make a good impression. You’re working really hard.”
A CAREER OUTCOME LADEN WITH IRONY
DeGisi works, somewhat ironically, for CommonBond, one of the refinancing outfits that has made repayment easier for MBAs graduating in the years after DeGisi.
“It’s just an interesting time to be someone coming out of business school with student debt compared to when I graduated in 2009,” he says. “First, there are companies like CommonBond now that will refinance your loan to a lower interest rate. That’s something that I wish was around when I was coming out of school with my debt. It’s giving people a set of options that didn’t exist before. They could only consolidate their loans, and that wasn’t saving them money.”
Also, DeGisi notes what appears to be a trend, companies offering to help pay off student loans, in order to attract top talent. Fast Company reported (http://www.fastcompany.com/3054749/the-future-of-work/is-student-loan-repayment-the-new-401k) earlier this month that about 3% of private-sector businesses are offering this benefit in some form, and that 80% of workers with student loans wanted an employer that would help beat down their debt.