Motivation for Debt Repayment

martinis and your money

Motivation for Debt Repayment

Today, I have my friend Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt back on the show for a motivational/inspirational shot episode. If you haven’t heard Melanie’s full story, you can hear it on the episode Debt Repayment and Side Hustling that aired in October 2014. In this episode, I brought Melanie back on to talk more about her recent accomplishment of paying off $81,000 + interest in student loan debt while barely making minimum wage.

I work with clients every day who have big goals that frequently seem too difficult to achieve, and I’m sure that’s how Melanie felt when she was living on food stamps; however her persistence and drive is something that should motivate and inspire all of us.


Cinnamon Toast Crunch (Fireball whiskey and Rum Chata, which is a rum-based cream liqueur)


  • Melanie borrowed $81,000 in student loans to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and she graduated with her Master’s from NYU in 2011.
  • After graduation, she struggled to find a job and had to hustle to make an income.
  • In the past year and a half, Melanie was able to double her income, quit her non-profit job, and pay $30,000 in one year on her student loan debt.
  • There are so many motivational lessons from Melanie’s story that relates to any goal, not just paying off student loan debt.
  1. You have to be passionate and intentional about your goal in order to achieve it.
  2. Share your goal with others so they know how to help you.
  3. Do progress checks so you know where you are in accomplishing your goal.
  4. Prove yourself and then ask for what you want—it’s all about confidence.
  5. When you really want to pursue a larger-than-life goal, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do—don’t be afraid of the hard work!
  • The journey of accomplishing a goal is not always easy or appealing, but the dark times will end and you’ll be that much closer to achieving what you set out to do.
  • Another motivational and inspirational aspect of Melanie’s story is that she pursued her goal in a way that worked for her.
    • Last year she took a trip to Spain instead of putting that money towards her debt.
    • She had debt fatigue, so she travel-hacked her way to Spain to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and have some time to herself to figure out where she wanted to go next.
  • There is no right way to achieve your goal; you have to do what is best for you.
  • Now that Melanie is debt-free, she is donating a portion of her blog income to her readers to help them pay off debts—she wants to be a debt fairy godmother!
  • She wants to provide the opportunity for people to have a dose of motivation and inspiration.


  • Melanie & Shannon are giving a $100 gift card to a listener of this show who is pursuing a big goal.
  • Comment below on my site or Melanie’s – Dear Debt
  • Email me at or Melanie at or tweet to us @blonde_finance and @deardebtblog and let us know what you are working on and how we can help you achieve that.
  • Or, if you are a member of the private Martinis and Your Money facebook group, you can let us know in there.
  • One lucky goal-setter will be chosen by the end of February!

What are your big goals in 2016? 

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. What a great story of motivation and inspiration. She was brave to make such a goal during a time really between jobs. I am amazed at her story.

    Her blog must be full of stories like this. Her readers kept her focused because everyone has debt.

  2. My big goal in 2016 is create a source of passive income. I have wanted to do so for the last ten years and have allowed excuses after excuses to lead me down the rabbit hole. I’m currently unemployed, working on a novel and in $6,000 of credit card debit.

    I’m proactive so I have a plan. I’m starting a new job soon the pay is similar to minimum wage but it’s also 2 miles from my apartment and the work is revativley easy for me. I wrote out my budget with one column for debts ( bills, living expenses) and the other for credit ( income, side hustle)
    I’m planning out my snacks and meals to take to work.

    I plan to utilize this new job to climb out of this small debt I’m in and save save save.
    I smile when I pay my bills, because I’m grateful to have credit cards in the first place and all the wonderful things in my life.

    I see myself debt free, in control of both my finances and career 2016.

  3. What an inspirational story!! I needed to hear something like that. My goal for this year is to generate enough revenue from my blog for it to be a tenable source of passive income and that requires lot of dedicated writing and reading.

  4. Best part of this whole episode, when Shannon gets all fired up about work ethic and says, “You know what, go F yourself.”

    But seriously Melanie, you have a super inspriational story, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

  5. It’s interesting. Student loan debt has caused a lot of stress and anxiety to me the past ~5 years, but it also motivated me to push myself to the limit and accomplish things I never thought I would have been able to. If it wasn’t for my student loan debt I’m not sure I would have stuck with my blog. If I hadn’t stuck with my blog I wouldn’t have a secondary income stream, wrote a book, or met many people who I truly would call my friends.

  6. Well, last year was spent socking away money to be able to pay for my husband’s dental implants this year. So this year’s goal is to get them done and paid — using rewards credit cards, then paying the statements in full. Because frugality.

    Unfortunately, we’re having to do without my husband’s disability check right now in case we do lose the current appeal. So this year’s big goal is to keep building savings (which will be down to about $2,000 once the implants are all done) and figure out how to increase our retirement savings. I’m hustling a little more on my blog, and we figured out how to cut some expenses. The rest… time will tell.

  7. Melanie’s story is so motivating to me because I am working to pay off $82,000 in student loan debt from law school. I’ve paid off about $60,000 and I’m ready to kill the rest!

  8. Way to go Melanie! I am still working on my student loan…. I am down to $18, 632. Bit by bit, I chip away at it. My Husbands is down to $ 1712. So we are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at that one right now! Then we will be able to focus on mine. Wish us luck.

  9. Thank you for this! I just started paying off my student loans and on top of that, I have a car payment right out of college. This is inspiration for me! Great episode!

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