Hi, hello and welcome! I’m Melisa Boutin a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), money coach and paying off debt is my jam.
I help you get rid of debt and finally get on track to live the life you envision for yourself!
As an 18-year-old, I made one of the biggest commitments of my life. I was accepted into a civil engineering degree program and signed up for student loans to finance my college education. What I did not know at the time was how negatively this financial decision would impact my life years after graduation.
You see, I was “awarded” unsubsidized and subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans and private loans in the U.S., plus a private student loan from a Caribbean bank. After my first year of college, I knew I would be on track to have more than $100,000 (USD) in student loan debt, so I had to figure out a way to get off that path and take control of my financial future. I decided to change schools and apply for free money in the form of scholarships. Even after winning multiple scholarships, I still ended up graduating with $58,000 (USD) in student loans. Ouch! My debt then jumped to nearly $70,000 (USD) after graduate school.
Since I had so many of them anyway, I became obsessed with understanding how student loans worked. I started reading every line of my student loan promissory notes, actually paid attention to the student loan exit counseling after graduation, and completed an in-school consolidation in 2006 when I learned that the U.S. Federal Government was going to spike student loan interest rates. This helped me to formulate a master plan to eliminate my student loan debt. That plan worked well for my U.S. student loans but not so well for my international loan with my Caribbean lender.
At the time, and the same is true today, there was virtually no information online about how student loans in the Caribbean worked. My Caribbean student loan promissory note had no mention of the terms and conditions related to deferment, capitalization, uncapitalized interest or how payments would be applied to my loan. Without that information, I still chose to prioritize making payments to this loan, even while attending graduate school. Of course, this would seem to have been a prudent move, right? Nope! It was only after I started assisting one of my friends with her student loan, from the same Caribbean lender, that I realized that none of my first year of payments were applied to my loan principal balance. I made just about $4,000 (USD) in payments, and $0 went to principal; I found this out 8 years later. Double ouch!
In spite of this, I was able to make my own debt payoff plan and pay my Caribbean student loan and my U.S. private student loans off in full, in December 2015, 5 years after completing graduate school, while supporting my extended family.
After hearing stories from other borrowers who were confused about how their student loan debt worked and how to pay them off faster, I recognized how my academic background and professional experience in engineering equipped me to understand my own student loans and create an effective payoff plan.
In January 2016, I decided to partner with Groundation Grenada, M.A.D.E. Grenada, and the University of Virgin Islands St. Kitts-Nevis Student Association to present a Student Loan Answers workshop to educate current student borrowers at the University of the Virgin Islands, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, how to analyze their student loan account statements, navigate the repayment process and develop plans to effectively pay off student loan debt .
The resounding positive feedback and praise for the workshop, drove me to create Yourmoneyworth.com and become a Certified Financial Education Instructor and money coach and help motivated Millennials, in the Caribbean and the U.S. to pay off debt, save, invest and live the life they envision for themselves.
In my spare time, I enjoy kayaking and cycling in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, where I live with my family, and searching for new headwarps to add to my personal collection.