"DING DONG MY LOANS ARE DEAD" typed Mandy Velez in a now viral Instagram post celebrating a massive milestone. According to ruinmyweek.com, Velez paid off $102,000 in student loan debt in only 6 years, a gargantuan effort for anyone, let alone a recent college graduate, to achieve. Celebrating such a momentous occasion called for a momentous photo shoot. Velez staged a mock funeral for finally killing off her loans, complete with a glam outfit and balloons in a local cemetery. The pure joy on her face is positively infectious.

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SWEET FREEDOM ????? Lots of people will see my story and say, see, if she could do it, so can you. But I don’t think that. Not everyone can do this. Maybe due to lack of jobs, ability or other compounding responsibilities, because truth be told, it’s a rigged game. Only those who play know it. But here’s the thing, people’s futures should never be a game. I celebrate my freedom but I don’t feel we student borrowers deserve the hardship that comes with these loans: high interest rates, sketchy providers, yearly tuition hikes, the list goes on. My hope is that my story inspires people to say “no more” the best way they can. Maybe it’s by finally getting sick and tired and paying their debt off if they’re able. If you can do it, I support you. Maybe it’s by voting for policy that makes the system much more fair. Any little bit of action helps. All I know is, this nightmare, this crisis, needs to end. Being open about my debt, and the hoops I had to jump through to get rid of it, is how I'm trying to help. But after six long years, it's time to celebrate. I have my life back. I changed my life. I changed my future family’s life. I ended the cycle of literally "paying" simply for wanting a better future. For being a “have not.” Well not anymore. It’s all mine now. I'm free. Photos: @120ish ___ #studentloans #loans #studentdebt #studentdebtcrisis #freecollege #studentloanforgiveness #debtfreejourney #babysteps #babystep2 #debtsnowball #daveramseybabysteps #financialadvisor #financialfreedom #financialfreedomstartshere #debtfreecommunity #debtfreemillennials #financialdiet

A post shared by Mandy Velez (@mandyvel) on

After graduating from college with $75,000 in student loan debt in 2013, Velez moved to New York City, a place already known for exorbitant prices. So how did she pull off such a miracle? At first, she made an effort to pay over the minimum amount, but doing so was costly, almost like another rent. It didn't feel sustainable in the long-term, so she had to regroup and find another plan of attack.

She set out with a bold goal: completely debt-free by age 30. In order to do so, she had to make some drastic changes to her life. 

"I cut my budget and lived off of less than a third of my monthly salary. (Turns out, packing lunches and not taking Ubers can save you a ton)," she wrote. "I worked three jobs at once, my day job and then side hustles. I cut my food budget down to merely salad, eggs, chicken and rice. I said 'no'... to making memories with my family and friends and prayed there would be other opportunities in the future."

Well, the extreme measures totally worked out, as she completed her goal a full two years before she expected. She thoroughly crushed it, and Instagram followers had nothing but praise to shower her with.

One person commented, "This has got to be one of the most educational, empowering, and motivational post I've EVER read!! Thank u for sharing what u did and HOW u did it!! I am DEFINITELY inspired, and will be using some of these strategies, and adopting this determination and mindset to meet my own debt-free goals!! Girl, u ROCK!!!!!!"

Another said, "People our age shouldn't have to go through all this just to get an education. Most people would just give up  and be in debt forever."

Now that Mandy Velez has achieved such an iconic status, she will hopefully be able to take a break from all the side hustles and celebrate with her astonished friends and family. This could serve as inspiration to everyone who is paying off student loans. Glamorous photo shoots are the best way to celebrate such an event. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of a wild new trend!

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