Sunday, April 8, 2012

Congratulations to No More Harvard Debt

I've been reading No More Harvard Debt since I started this blog. The author graduated Harvard Business School with $100k+ in student loan debt, and seven months ago he decided he was ready to be rid of it. He set the ridiculously audacious goal of paying off $90k+ of debt in 10 months. He succeeded two months ahead of schedule.

I was — and continue to be — amazed by his story. He's just a normal guy who converted from a high-income high-consumption lifestyle to a particularly frugal lifestyle overnight. He managed to change his life while staying true to his values. He made a bunch of tough sacrifices but he stuck it out, and he's a better person for having done it. I'm inspired by his story.

Even if you don't have the time to read through the No More Harvard Debt archives, read his Mission Accomplished! post. It has a great retrospective and it's a really thoughtful piece.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout-out to NMHD for a job well done.


  1. Wow...I am at a loss for words. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate the shout-out. Keep up your own great work here. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the pointer. It is an amazing achievement, and an inspiration.

    I loved his comment about "victimless" lifestyle changes, especially as I have 4 dependents - which adds many interesting layers to deciding upon and implementing change.

  3. I admit to being a fan of the blog because I found it entertaining as he's a good storyteller but I think he's getting a bit too much credit for all the "sacrifices" that he made. Could you please explain what tough sacrifices he made in your mind? I'm not trying to sound condescending and agree he worked hard to meet his goal.

    I admit taking in strangers off of Craigslist as roommates was a sacrifice but at the end of each month they were his only source of steady, incresed revenue as neither of his side ventures panned out. Also NMHD said in one posts that the US got into the financial mess we're in because we don't know how to make sacrifices so I think he realizes these sacrifices were good for him and needed to be done.

    Another sacrifice he made that I was impressed with is not going home for X-mas but even there he had seen everyone a few months prior.

    I don't see flasking as a sacrifice as some do because he could have just stopped going to the bars, instead he found a way to still go to the bars and spend less money.

    As far as the cheap dates go, I think this is the kind of first date he should have been going on the whole time. I would think it was weird if a guy spent hundreds of dollars on a first date and many female commenters agreed. Part of me wondered if the point of those expensive dates was for a guaranteed one night stand. I live in Austin as well and I know that some of those dates could have been cheaper like instead of going hiking at Enchanted Rock (not even in Austin, and you have to pay to get in) there are closer/cheaper placed he could have gone)

    I'm not trying to take away from what he achieved and I realize that everyone has a different definition of what sacrifices are. I just feel like the major element in allowing him to get his loans paid off is that he finally started to live like normal people do.

    1. Well, I think he would agree with you that even at the frugal level of consumption he ended at, it's still pretty luxurious -- whether you compare it to the average family below the poverty line, or the average non-First World family. I was impressed most by the dedication with which he threw himself at his quest to rid himself of debt. At the point he started, he was spending something like $1k/mo at bars and restaurants, owning three vehicles, and basically buying whatever he wanted; to owning one vehicle, living with two roommates, spending maybe $250/mo recreationally, and trying two extra-career paths to bring in more money. It's a huge difference in lifestyle and it amounted to a huge effort of will to get it done.

      The fact of the matter is that responsibly paying down one's debts before engaging in reasonable purchases of consumer goods is just not the default financial behavior of almost every American. NMHD willed himself out of that death spiral of consumerism, and I think that's pretty cool.