Dr. Varquez does a great job of getting straight to the point of how to pay off your student loans and what to consider if you decide to go ahead and take out student loans.
Dr. Varquez is also a Career Services Coordinator at Coastline College with specialization in career development, education, consultation, and counseling. His passion is to serve and assist students in the 21st century identify a career path that best fits their personality, values, interests, strengths, and skills…and develop a strategy to get them there in the most efficient route possible.
THIS EPISODE COVERS:
- Reverse planning how you want to pay for schools;
- Considering the timing of your student loans;
- How to leverage the gig economy to pay off your student loans;
- Being open-minded to talking about money with your friends and family;
- The benefits of joining the debt free community; and
- Creative ways to turn everyday experiences into a possible savings strategy (hint, hint…Costco Adventures)
- much, much more…
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Dr. Paolo Varquez (00:00): They gave me financial aid in the beginning. Okay. But then after I accepted, already registered for classes, they updated my financial aid. My parents' income was over by $60 and I lost that financial aid. My
Daphné Vanessa (00:08): Gosh, they exaggerate.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (00:11): Yeah. And by $60 it went over to income ceiling and I lost financial aid that first year. So I lost financial aid already registered for classes. That's like, they already got you. I
The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:22): Welcome to the student loan podcast
Shamil Rodriguez (00:24): Here. You'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses
Daphné Vanessa (00:31): And inspiring stories about paying off student loans, where your host, Daphne, Vanessa
Shamil Rodriguez (00:37): And Shamil Rodriguez,
Daphné Vanessa (00:41): Please rate, review and subscribe to the student loan podcast by visiting the student loan podcast on apple podcast or wherever you find your podcast. This is not professional advice. And we speak from our own personal views and opinions. The student loan podcast is brought to you by start new, where you can serve community and get rewarded with tuition and student loan payments to check out if start new is on your campus, visit start new.com. Thank you everyone for joining the student loan podcast today, we have an amazing guest, none other than Dr. B VA kiss. I hope I pronounced your name correctly.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (01:53): Yeah. Well thank you for having me Daphne, of course. Yeah. So, uh, just, I guess really quickly from my background, I was born in Philippines and I lived in Singapore and my years I came here second grade. Nice. And having Asian parents, even though I don't, I don't look Asian. I still had that pressure of being a doctor, lawyer engineer
Dr. Paolo Varquez (02:41): Yep. And, and because, you know, that's, you know, that's what I heard all the time from parents, teachers, my friends, um, I went to that UC route to have that college experience. And it really was the college experience. Um, Santa Barbara is a huge, uh, party school. So I definitely got that experience. Nice.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (03:28): And, um, so fast forward, you know, I actually got my, I went for my master's in counseling right afterwards. I got my bachelor's in psychology and sociology chain, my major, so many times, like many
Dr. Paolo Varquez (04:15): And I find that also as one solution to actually reduced amount of student loans, we have have, it is in, in the U in the us. So after my, my, so when I was doing my work as a, I was actually a career advisor and a counselor at a community college, I got my doctorate in education. So I was able to, I was able to work at the same time, um, while at, while I was doing my, my school, which, which was really good. So all my loans actually just an undergrad, because I learned, I learned not to do that from my grad degrees. So they're my master's, you know, I got scholarships, I got, uh, fellowships, I got research fellowships and, and, um, such as yourself, you know, definitely shares your story in this podcast about hustling. I definitely learned that after
Dr. Paolo Varquez (05:02): Um, and then similarly, when I got my, my doctorate as, as well, cause I was working full time. Um, I was, I, I saved up. Um, but also I still applied for scholarship as look, got financial aid. I knew how it worked. Yes. So I knew how to play that system. So, so listening, if you don't have any, if you are planning on go going for grad school or advance degrees down the line, do it when you're, when you, your income is low, because you're more likely to get French. So just think about it.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (05:57): And presidents of colleges. And, and I, I, I, I defended my dissertation pandemic style, meaning I had my suit on a top and shorts at the bottom. Yes, yes, yes. And, um, and, and that's exactly how I, I graduated and right when I finished, I knew my target was those student loans. Again, no student loans, my master's no student loans for my doctorate. Um, and I had about overall like 75,000 plus from an undergraduate. And that didn't really, to me, that doesn't make any sense, like why go in debt in the beginning, if you're planning to get like an advanced degree in the future. So for those that are listening, think about that, you know, if you wanna become a medical doctor or, or something, you go further, you might wanna consider planning backwards. So maybe you wanna get loans. It might be better for you to take out loans at your advanced degree, but not your undergrad when you could get that for free. Right. Right. So, and then just like a, you know, quick summary of how I paid everything. I paid everything off in probably like a year and eight months, which is, yeah. You
Daphné Vanessa (06:59): Paid off $80,000 in
Dr. Paolo Varquez (07:01): A year and a half 70. Yeah. So $75,000 in like a year in like eight months or something like that.
Daphné Vanessa (07:06): Oh man. Okay. We have to go into that. How did you do that? That's amazing.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (07:12): Yeah. So, uh, working just, I think at the end of the day, it's basic my, and um, the more hours you put in, uh, the more you can knock those out, you know, I think a lot of people, when they get into paying off debt, the first person they may, they maybe hear about is that Dave Ramsey approach where they just, yeah. You know, they line up, you know, they're
Dr. Paolo Varquez (07:59): So I did, I literally did Uber eats, DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Instacart, I'm sure I'm missing. Oh. Shipped. And for those of you, I don't know, shipped is actually, um, they work with, with target and it was hot back then. So I literally have all these, I had all these apps on my phone and I would just like, and just deliver and deliver. And I was making during those times, like 40 to 50 an hour, and you just, you know, yeah. You're make, you're making pretty good money doing that. And literally it was just time. And after a year and seven months, I was officially that free, which is amazing. Oh my
Daphné Vanessa (08:38): Goodness. L ladies and gentlemen and days. And, and Zays, did you hear what, what doctor just said? This is huge. You're saying that you leveraged the gig economy during a time of when P a lot of people could have seen scarcity, but you saw opportunity talk to us about the mindset that it took for you to shift. Right. Because a lot of people were operating in deprivation mode during the pandemic, but it looks like you saw opportunity. Why is that?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (09:10): Yeah, so I think, you know, everyone looks at the world a, a little bit differently, depend on what they're dealing with. It's really hard, you know, I understand, you know, if you're going through a pandemic and you lost your job, I mean, that's gonna be, that's tough. Especially if you have kids, you have family, that's a tough pill to swallow for sure. Um, but at the end of the day, it is, it is my, it is mindset. And I think having a community, um, whether that means, you know, in person or even online, we have, there's so much forums online nowadays, where people are like, they built their community together and they even share goal settings. I think that's really important. Um, and, and I think the, the talk of money is taboo and it shouldn't be, I think, yeah, I think the more, you know, we talk about it to, especially parents, like, I think parents need to talk to kids about money.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (09:56): That's super important. Agreed. Um, but the, I think the more we talk about it with, you know, friends, family, and just people around us, the more open we are with those kind of situations, the more likely we get to do something about it, especially attacking, attacking these loans, because, um, you know, again, we're gonna, we're gonna talk about our podcasts later, but, um, there's, you know, you kind of have the individuals who attack it and you kind of have the individuals that avoid it and then everyone else kind of in between. Um, and, and I think one, one of my inspirations was definitely like the debt free community online. Yeah. Um, and if you haven't checked out, go to YouTube, just type in debt, free community, or just like minimalism and all these are all connected to each
Daphné Vanessa (10:38): Other. They do. Oh my gosh. Mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (10:54): Yes, I actually, um, I picked this up probably during the, my, my college days and I just got, and, and again, everyone has their own definition of minimalism. I agreed. Mm-hmm
Daphné Vanessa (11:40):
Dr. Paolo Varquez (12:12): Keeps it simple for sure. Keeps it easy.
Daphné Vanessa (12:14): And there's less decision making about like outfits and stuff like that. Don't get me wrong if I have a gala or something like that, then maybe it's different, but mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (12:28): For sure. Yeah. And then one thing I forgot to share as well. Yeah. Um, so I'm crazy thing I also did as I was like saving up. Um, cuz again, I started thinking about, you know, minimizing my costs even before I started paying it off. Yeah. I used to go to Costco and do like three to five rounds of samples for samples. Oh that was my lunch. I made a blog about it. So actually if you go to Instagram and type in like Costco adventures, I, I, I, I've got to 300, 316 different Costcos. Oh
Daphné Vanessa (12:57): My. We definitely have to. That's a strategy related gentlemen. That is a lunch strategy.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (13:08): Mm-hmm
Daphné Vanessa (13:18): I love it. I love it. So that's being creative, right. It's thinking about everyday things and, and there's something inside everybody's different. Right. But for me personally, I hate overspending on necessities. I don't know where it comes from, but I have a strong desire of if, so of things in need, I want to spend as little as possible or nothing
Dr. Paolo Varquez (13:55): Yeah. Good strategy right there.
Daphné Vanessa (13:57): Is. It is. So talk to us about what you use in terms of so two questions actually mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (14:23): Um, okay. Okay. Actually, this is a very good question because my student loans was like, my personal student loans was about $32,000 and the rest was actually from, from parent plus loans. So wow. Yeah. So during my undergrad, I, and I, I skipped this piece, but they gave me financial aid in the beginning. Okay. But then after I accepted, already registered for classes, they updated my financial aid. My parents' income was over by $60 and I lost that financial aid. My
Daphné Vanessa (14:52): Gosh, they exaggerate.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (14:55): Yeah. And by $60 it went over to income seal and I lost, I lost, um, financial aid that first year. So not only cuz tuition alone is like, you know, 10, 12,000, whatever it is for at a UC plus I dormed my first year as that adds on another 12 right there. So I lost financial aid. I already registered for classes. It's like they already got you. Yeah. Um, so both my parents had to take out, um, parent plus loans and I ended up having to take it over because in my, in my perspective it's kind of like course it was, it was my education. I didn't want them to pay for it. Um, one thing also that I got to mention my dad's parent plus loan originally was 15,000 mm-hmm
Daphné Vanessa (15:50): Insane.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (15:51): Yeah. So, and it was 7% interest for parent plus loans. So again, most people don't, again, it's one of those things where I didn't look at it. Yep. So, so having those conversations with parents is really, really, really important because that $15,000 could have been avoided. For sure.
Daphné Vanessa (16:04): Yeah. Crucial, crucial. This is absolutely the reason why we have these conversations, right. It, so that people know and they're aware and start thinking about para plus loan. Let me look at the interest rate. Let me make sure that this actually makes financial sense. Mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (16:34): Federal? Um, it, yeah, it was all federal. It was all federal, there was no private there. Uh, and it was a mix of both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Um, and I, I targeted and the way I attacked it was Hmm. Lemme try, trying to think of a way I attacked it. Um, it was mainly snowball method, which is like lining up from lowest to highest. Um, however, I did have a Google sheets, so basically in Excel and I literally map, okay, like how much am I paying? How much what's my minimum. I wanna put in these loans per month. And I always put that extra. Um, and I, I turned, I basically turned into a game. I turned into a game where, um, what's like the most I could pay for this month. Um, and then the thing is I shared that on my stories on my Instagram.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (17:24): So it inspired a lot of people inspired them to pay off their student loans or whatever debt they're dealing with. They're like, wow, like this is really powerful. You know, like I have, I've had my credit card loans for like five years and you're motivating me to pay it off. I love it. So, so I think sharing it, it has has a lot to do with it because now you're like, oh God, I don't next month I wanna go even higher now. Cause someone's gonna call me out on this. Yeah. So, so definitely one first step you wanna do is, is one good step that they could do is different ways to do it is literally putting it on, on an Excel or some kind of document because if everything's on your head, you either avoid it or you overestimate or underestimate. Yeah. It makes it more realistic to put it on a, on a document. Love it.
Daphné Vanessa (18:06): And did you leverage automation at all the payoff of your student loans?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (18:11): Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, I had, I think I, I put in the minimum was two 50 every month mm-hmm
Daphné Vanessa (18:47): Oh, amazing. What was the first you did when you were debt free from student loans?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (18:54): Um, I wore my shirt that said, um, straight outta debt
Daphné Vanessa (19:01): Love it.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (19:02): Love it. Yeah, that, that was the very first thing I did from what I remembered. And then probably the next thing I started doing was, um, I actually started thinking about doing that podcast that I, I started, um, I didn't start it then cuz I, I actually finished officially. I think it was October 18th of last year that I finished
Daphné Vanessa (19:27): So fast by the way. Yeah, it was. And you already paid off your student loans. That's intense. Can we get a round of applause? I wish I had a round of applause like on, on like a DJ board or something, but yeah, that's amazing. Yeah.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (19:45): So definitely, uh, leveraged the, the um, the pandemic for sure.
Daphné Vanessa (19:49): For sure. And so talk to us about the student loan experience. It seems like you obviously are well qualified to have a podcast about student loans. Talk to us about what's the student loan experience and how has it made an difference in people's lives?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (20:04): Yeah, so the student loan experience is a podcast I just started, uh, last December and really the purpose of that podcast for to share stories. So I think when people don't have student loans, it's hard for them to understand what people are going through with student loans. Right. And everyone is different. They just, you know, a lot of times if, especially sometimes they're older, they're like you got it out. You gotta pay back now, which makes logical sense. Right? Yeah. But when you're 18, 17 taking this money out and you're just listening to what everyone tells you, you don't think about that. And then years later you're like, oh crap. Like I have to pay this off. And there's no sense of what $32,000 mean you. Because in, in my me, for example, I thought, okay, I'm going, I'm gonna get outta college and make $50,000.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (20:49): If I take $50,000 in loans, I'm gonna pay that off in one year. I, I literally, that was my thought. Yeah. My in my high school years, without thinking about taxes, without thinking about all your expenses, every single every single month cause yeah, exactly. And no one talks about insurance. Yeah. Adulting basically. Yeah. Adulting 1 0 1, no one talks about those kind of information. I think that's way more valuable than the, a through G's that we learn in high school or some, or the general ed we learn in college as well. So, um, so yeah, so basically it's like a, a platform where others could hear other people's stories and everyone has the different takes on it. Some people are, they attack it such as myself and there's some people that have way more student loans.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (21:38): Yeah. Yep. That's and he, and he paid it off. Love it, love it. Yeah. Um, story. And then there's also other individuals where, uh, um, for example, like their original $20,000 loan ballooned up to like $120,000, um, because they didn't. Yeah. Because a lot of people, sometimes when they see those letters, they either ignore it or don't open it and different reasons. Right. And sometimes you're opening it, you, you really can't afford it. Um, and again, everyone is, is different. Everyone takes it a little bit differently. So my goal really is to invite people that have dealt with student loans from, from different angles. Yeah. That way. And eventually the goal is to influence, uh, people in power to make policies. So this could be stopped. Like the cycle just can't continue. It doesn't make any sense at all. Why we're punishing people that wanna be educated. It just does not make any sense. Mm-hmm
Daphné Vanessa (23:01): I love it. I love it. I love the idea of working together. I'm going to make a pact that we will work with you specifically on influencing people to change policies so that we are a nation that encourages more inclusivity of education regardless of socioeconomic class mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (23:59): I think right now, only because I felt like I not lost, but my, I felt like my twenties had a lot of valuable I'm I'm 30 now. So I felt like my, my twenties had a lot of valuable time, not necessarily loss, but in terms of like investing, I, I, you know, cause after you learn
Dr. Paolo Varquez (24:50): Um, maxing out on my Roth IRA as well. And because I am doing, I'm still doing the gig work. Some people are like, Hey, are you gonna stop doing the gig work? And for me it's like, I don't, I don't think so.
Daphné Vanessa (25:18): Love it. Um, and how humble must you be to literally be a doctor mm-hmm
Dr. Paolo Varquez (25:36): Yeah. And I also think it's, it's a message for, um, maybe the older generation as well, who say, you know, millennials are lazy millennials, don't no do this and that. And I just wanna be a model and say, Hey, I'm a doctorate degree. I'm still doing this kind of work. Yeah. Love it. And, and it's not our fault and we're doing the best we can. And we have really smart people, such as yourself doing great work and, and, and we need to be, we need to be acknowledged about the stuff that we do.
Daphné Vanessa (26:05): Thank you. And I agree that, uh, millennials, I don't know how this happened because I don't really know the lazy millennials. I have to be honest, but, um, you're right. Like we are doing so much, um, and we do get a bad rap. So thank you for being another example of, despite your success, despite paying off your student loans, despite getting a PhD, you are still out there hustling Uber Lyft. And that is the example that is the American dream, right. That's it is, that is literally the American dream. And, and you're an example of that. So thank you for sharing that and inspiring so many people.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (26:45): Thank you.
Daphné Vanessa (26:46): Love it. Um, so with all that we've talked about, is there a message that you want to leave with our audience? Are there any words of encouraging advice that you have for listeners of the student loan podcast?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (26:59): Yeah. Um, I think my first message is that you're, you're not alone. Um, there's a lot of people with, with situations that you're dealing with. I think the first step is, is really, uh, facing it.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (27:41): I mean, if you literally Google student loans, then your county or your, your, um, your area, um, you'll find some nonprofits out there that is doing some kind of work that you, that you agree with. So I think that's the first step is like being aware and also getting involved. That's the first step. Um, and then another message I wanna share, especially for, for our younger generation is that it's, it's your life. It's not your parents' life. That's really important. And, and I have a message for parents as well, because I think there's a lot of pressure from a lot of parents to send their kid to their top university. And I, I finally figured out like why they, I mean, one reason why they want their kids to go to these prestigious schools like UCLA, NYU, like these prestigious universities is so during holiday parties, you could show them off to your like sisters and brothers, their uncles, and the rest of their family saying, Hey, my kid goes to NYU, studying medical, like to become a doctor, you know, to make it's.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (28:40): So basically like the way I think about it is like parents, egos are tied up to their kids university, like whatever choice their university goes to. And I think that needs to stop. Um, and that would, that would help. That would alleviate a lot of the stress that a lot of, um, high schools feel high schoolers feel because they're like, oh, I gotta do this because I have to impress, impress my parents or my teachers. But there's so many alternative ways out there. Um, community college, I work in a community college. I went to a, you know, I went to a public school. I went to California, I went to Cal state and the UC and I, I work at a community college and I can tell you now, you know, as a counselor, as an advisor, it's one of the best moves you could make. If you get financial aid, you go to university, go for it. But community college is one of the greatest routes you could go to. And don't oversee the, the trades as well. There's so many careers in the trades where you go to school for like a semester
Daphné Vanessa (29:37): Yep. Contractors are winning especially right now. And that's a trade.
Dr. Paolo Varquez (29:43): Yeah, exactly.
Daphné Vanessa (29:46): That is fantastic advice. I think that we've had a great conversation. Where can listeners find you? Where can they find out, you know, how to connect with you? You mentioned Insta, are there any other channel, you know, that people can, can hit you up?
Dr. Paolo Varquez (30:05): Yeah. I mean, first, um, if you wanna add me professionally, you could always go to LinkedIn and type in, uh, Paul Marquez. Uh, you'll find me there. If you wanna listen to, to the podcast, the, to the loan podcast, um, you go to Google podcasts, apple podcast, or Spotify, just type in, um, student loan experience. And you'll be able to find for, I mean, there, if you are interested in the, the Costco adventures and it it's just my, again, I, another thing I wanna say is balance is key.
Daphné Vanessa (30:40): That is so fun. Well, guys, I know what I'm doing after I'm binging Costco
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