OK,  most of the time I did this. I admit, there were times that I'd get a little something extra and use it for a want instead of a need. But I always ended up feeling guilty about it, although maybe I shouldn't have, because you should leave room in life for fun, right?

But again, the idea was to work at my debt  wholeheartedly so that I could be completely free in a short amount of time.  I didn't want to sacrifice a little for 10 years or even five years. I wanted to sacrifice a lot for one year. (Although, at the time, I didn't even know one year was possible - I just wanted to pay it off ASAP.) I wanted to take advantage of the fact that my debt amount was modest, and paying it off this quickly was doable. This might sound contradictory to a couple of GRS tenets, specifically: “It's more important to be happy than it is to be rich,” and “Slow and steady wins the race.” So let me clarify. I wasn't obsessed with money; I was obsessed with freedom. I wasn't in a race to get rich - I just wanted to be able to live closer to my means without looming debt. So for that year, anything extra would (usually) go toward my debt, and if it didn't, I'd be a little peeved at myself.

I paid attention to the details

Back then, I spent a lot of time on the  phone with my lender. I'd pay a huge chunk of my loan, and instead of applying it to the principal, they'd apply it to future interest - and the interest amount was predetermined to be for a 20-year period. That's a hell of a lot, so periodically, I'd have to call and shorten my repayment term. I also had to let them know any extra money I was paying was to go to the principal. Each month, I calculated the amounts they would come up with to make sure they were right. If they weren't, I called. As the balance decreased, I became more and more encouraged.

I moved back in

And finally, the ultimate sacrifice. It was the beginning of 2007, and I think I had something like $6,000 left on my loan. I was determined to pay it off by the year's end. Around that time, I got a new job that paid double what I was making, so this was especially encouraging. “I could pay this off by July!” I thought. But then I realized that if I moved back in with my parents, I could  turbo-boost my debt repayment and pay it off even sooner. Luckily, my parents didn't charge me rent. That was great. What  wasn't so great, however, was how strict they were. I was 24 years old and I had to be home by midnight. If I wanted to go see my friend's band play in the hip part of town where I used to live, my mom didn't care. They'd better be onstage by 10.

We fought a lot, my mom and I. “Even when you're 30,” she would yell, “I'm going to be checking up on you!”