She Graduated College Debt-Free With $40K in Savings. Want to Do the Same?

how to graduate debt-free
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Graduating college with no student loan debt is a dream for many — but graduating with no debt and thousands in savings? That’s more like a fantasy.

Yet by combining winning scholarships, working through college and saving aggressively, Amanda Reaume managed to do just that: graduate college debt-free with $40,000 in the bank.

Want to follow her lead? She shared her tips for reaching your own audacious saving goal, whether it’s $100,000, $50,000 or even $20,000, on

1. Go to an Inexpensive College

Attending a less expensive school, or the one that gives you the most scholarships, will ensure you graduate with less debt. And for the most part — University of Phoenix excepted — nobody cares where you went to undergrad.

That’s one reason this student, who was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, turned them all down — he’d rather take a full-ride scholarship and save his cash to pay for medical school.

2. Pay Off Your Credit Cards in Full Every Month

Those interest charges are murder. Don’t open yourself up to the possibility of watching them spiral out of control.

3. Live Within Your Means, Even After You Graduate

Just because you’re not in college anymore, doesn’t mean you can start having steak every night.

Act as though you’re still a broke college student — whether that means living with roommates, taking public transit or looking for ways to save money on food — and your savings will bloom.

4. If Your Employer Offers a 401(k) Match, Take It

It’s free money!

5. Have a Side Hustle

If it’s OK with your job #1, make some extra money on the side by freelancing or picking up odd jobs.

Think about writing blog posts, tutoring or whatever you’re good at. For ideas, check out this post on side hustle inspiration, or this one on ways to make money on the side.

Do What Works for You

Not all these tips will work for everyone. Your boss might not be OK with your side hustle, and your job might not have a retirement match.

The point is, while saving $100,000 or even $40,000 may be out of reach, even having $10,000 more in the bank than you would otherwise have puts you in a much better financial position.

For the rest of Amanda’s strategies, check out the full story on or pick up her book.

Your Turn: How much have you saved? What’s your savings goal?

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Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.