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6 women whose side hustles help pay off student loan debt

Natalia Lusinski

July 9, 2019

People take on side hustles — in other words, become part of the “gig economy” — for a variety of reasons, from saving up money for retirement to building their emergency fund. Other people, however, use side hustle money toward paying their student loan debt. And do you blame them?

“It’s not a secret anymore that side gigs — no matter what form they take — have become a smart move both financially and career-wise,” Rachel Bitte, Chief People Officer at Jobvite, tells Pillar. “The gig economy can provide a much-needed secondary source of income, help workers acquire skills to push closer to their dream job, or even bring a passion project to life (and then monetize it).” She says that according to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation Report, nearly 60% of workers said they picked up a side hustle because they needed the money. “Picking the right side hustle is all about assessing your own goals,” Bitte says. “These may include starting a new business, paying more money toward rent, or paying off student loans.” That said, below are six women who use side hustle money toward their student loans.


1. McKinzie Bean, 26, Salt Lake City, UT


“I started a blog as a side hustle a few years ago,, soon after becoming a stay-at-home mom. I craved the personal interaction, using my skills, and helping support our family. Initially, my goal was to just make an extra $500 a month on the side; that much would help grow our savings and allow us to do more fun things. Eventually, as I put more effort into my site, it began to grow — and two years ago, my husband was even able to quit his job! We live solely on my blog income and I was even able to put him through school to get his master’s degree without going into any debt. Since he was at home with me, he was able to participate in an accelerated program so he only had to pay for one year of tuition versus two; I think it was approximately $8,000-10,000. The school did it based on how many terms you were in, not a flat rate for the program, so we saved a ton! The blog has been so fun and has been such a blessing to our family. It pays for pretty much everything — our home, utilities, cars, my little boy’s pre-school, etc. — and has also helped us grow our savings significantly.”

2. Amira Irfan, Boca Raton, Florida

“I recently paid off my $150,000 student loan debt! This debt goes back to my law school education that I was diligently working to pay off since 2010. For eight years, I’d make monthly payments and it felt like I had two house mortgages because the student loan payment was pretty close to my mortgage payment. So last year, while working full-time as a lawyer, I decided to start a business on the side,, where I teach bloggers and entrepreneurs how to become their own boss while protecting themselves legally. This way, I’d earn additional income that would help me pay off my student loans quickly — and I did it!

After working tirelessly around the clock for six months, I managed to use the additional income I earned from my online business to reach my goal: pay off my remaining $60,000 in student loan debt! It was the best decision ever, because now I feel so free and don’t have to worry about student loans for the rest of my life; I’m happier and much more relaxed. I’d tell others not to let student loans prevent you from getting a higher education. Create a plan to pay them off — whatever works best based on your financial circumstances.”

3. Brionne Downs, 31, Houston, TX

“My side hustle is Maven Bliss, a subscription box for working women looking to optimize their work-life balance while ensuring they make moments for self-care. I started it for two reasons: 1) My main job is extremely stressful and I was looking for an outlet to reduce that stress while doing things that I enjoy. I figured there would be many ladies just like me, who had bouts of work-related anxiety and wanted to treat themselves while exploring tips and tools to reduce stress and optimize their personal lives. Through the boxes, we increase our organization, introspection (through journal prompts), and shared resources (in our exclusive Facebook group). 2) I am paying off my student loans with it. Having the extra income allows me to make larger payments without taking away from other responsibilities or financial goals. It also allows me to have the flexibility I desire to meet all the financial demands of life, like swim classes for my daughter and life insurance for me and my husband.”

4. Amber Guyton, 32, San Antonio, TX

“I work in marketing and product management full-time at a financial services company, but started a side hustle in 2016, Blessed Little Bungalow, which is a residential interior design blog and business. I started the business after decorating my entire home in a week and being encouraged by my loved ones to follow my creative passions. I used the profit from my client projects to pay off my student loan last month. All in all, I paid off a total of $89,000 in consumer debt ($38,000 in student loans, $33,000 in revolving credit cards, $14,000 on an auto loan, and $3,500 in medical bills). All I have left now is my mortgage — $164,500 remaining — and I also continue to build my nest egg with the additional income.”


5. Julie Chickery, 48, Zephyrhills, FL



“After 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and another 10 in corporate America, I retired early at the age of 48. I now travel full-time with my husband, Sean, in our RV. I actually have several side hustles, which include a running a blog, Chickery’s Travels, freelance writing for other online publications, and presenting seminars at RV and outdoor shows. I also wrote a book with my husband, Full-Time RV Finance, to help other folks who want to travel full-time. Finally, at Blogging Tech Made Easy, I also coach others who are interested in starting a blog, but need a little help with the technology end.

These side hustles allow me to earn extra money to help me supplement my retirement, fund our full-time travel adventures, and go toward paying off debt. We are on a journey to become debt-free and have paid off a little over $139,000 in the last two years — and some of that was student loan debt, a little leftover from my graduate degree and a Parent PLUS Loan for our son’s undergraduate degree.”


6. Dr. Kathleen Dass, 34, Bloomfield Hills, MI


“I started my own solo allergy immunology practice 1.5 years ago. Simultaneously, I started a successful side hustle of online consignment shopping, @kathd4545 on Poshmark. Poshmark allows you to sell your clothing through their application; I mark the items knowing that they take a 20 percent commission, and people almost always ask for discounts. Initially, this was meant to serve as supplemental income until my immunology practice picked up, but I now use this money toward my student loans; since July 2017, I have paid an additional $15,000 toward them. The Poshmark closet is fun, as I have always had an interest in fashion. It’s also fantastic that my gently used or never worn clothing, accessories, or shoes are being put towards my student loans!”

As you can see, side hustle money can go toward many things, including student loan debt. And, the sooner you pay them off, the less you’ll have to worry about. 

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