Many large neighborhoods have a Facebook group these days, and ours is no exception. Our page is a place to share resources, ask questions, and – unfortunately – complain about each other from time to time.

The other day, however, I noticed a message that made me smile from ear to ear. It came from the mother of a local gal who is working her way through college. Here’s an excerpt from what I read:

“With spring in the air, and spring cleaning a chore, please let us know if you have any children or adult clothes (regardless of the season) that you need to get rid of. Lauren continues to be successful at selling items to reduce her student loans, and will start graduate school 6/14. Everyone has been very generous. Please text me at {phone number} if you have any clothes or items to donate, and I’ll arrange pick up. What she is not successful at selling, we will donate to St. Vincent DePaul or Goodwill.”

After reading this message, I knew I had to learn more. So, when I did some cleaning a few weeks ago, I reached out to the family to make a donation.

Here’s what I discovered: This gal is working two jobs and attending school. Instead of letting her undergraduate student loans balloon due to accruing interest, she’s been reselling donated items on Facebook. Her mother told me that, so far, she has paid off more than $3,000 in interest and principal on her loans.

Related: Should I Refinance My Student Loans?

Best of all, she has done all this work on her own terms. She picks up donations from people’s homes, figures out the most lucrative way to resell the items, then throws the profits towards her debts.

In my opinion, Lauren is one smart cookie!

5 Signs You Have the Hustle Mentality

I like to think my twenty-year-old self was a lot like Lauren. I wasn’t always the smartest with money, but I did have one thing working in my favor – grit. In my early twenties, I wasn’t happy with my earnings. So, I started cleaning houses on the side. With the extra money I earned, I was able to fix one of my biggest financial mistakes – the fact I bought a $25,000 car when I made less than $10 per hour!

I love Lauren’s story for a several reasons, but mostly because she’s chosen not to be a victim of her circumstances. Instead of complaining about her student loans and crazy interest rates, she decided to do something about it. And because of her extra efforts, she should get out of debt sooner and save a ton of cash in the process.

Lauren may not realize it yet, but she has an entrepreneurial spirit. And yes, she has the “hustle mentality” that is so important for overcoming adversity.

Do you have the mentality of a hustler? Here are five signs you might:

#1: You come up with new ways to make money all the time.

Entrepreneurs and “hustlers” realize that you don’t always need a “job” to earn extra cash. If you have a hustle mentality, you’re probably coming up with crazy ways to earn money all the time.

Related: 99 Extra Ways to Earn Money This Year

Believe it or not, our first “hustle” as a couple was this blog! While we didn’t earn a lot of extra money at the beginning, this website is now my husband’s 9-5 job.

If you’re a hustler, you’re probably earning some side cash somehow, either by reselling on eBay, babysitting, walking dogs, or taking surveys for money. When you’re a hustler, you know that any skill you have could be turned into a money-making opportunity.

#2: You spend your free time trying to improve your life.

While a lot of people watch professional sports all weekend or follow television series like it’s their part-time job, people who hustle usually spend their free time coming up with ways to improve their life. They may watch television and relax sometimes, but their main goal is getting ahead.

#3: You plan ahead for a better future.

A lot of people in Lauren’s position would just deal with their student loans when they graduated. But Lauren knows something many people don’t realize – that the steps she can take now can make her future easier.

Planning ahead for a better life is a hallmark of someone with the “hustle mentality.” You’re not only thinking of today, but you’re planning for tomorrow, too.

#4: You don’t wait around for somebody else to fix your problems.

Student loan forgiveness and “free college” are buzzwords used heavily these days, but people like Lauren don’t wait around for the government or the Bank of Mom and Dad to save the day. Instead of waiting for someone else to solve her student debt woes, Lauren is taking the bull by the horns.

Every person who hustles like this adopts this attitude. Hustlers don’t allow themselves to stay victims for long; instead, they come up with some way to make their lives better. But more than that, they take action.

#5: You know that doing something is better than nothing.

When Lauren picked up the donations from my home, she mentioned she had $40,000 in undergraduate debt. For many people, this amount of debt would render them helpless.

But people who hustle see things in a different way; instead of looking at a big number like $40,000 and giving up, they know that any progress will help.

This type of attitude can help you in nearly every aspect of your life. You may not pay off debt overnight, but what if you could earn an extra $100 each month? An extra $500? An extra $1,000? If you’re a hustler, you know that your efforts will leave you better off – and that being complacent will leave you worse off. 

Are You Ready to Hustle?

If you’re tired of being in debt or not earning enough, Lauren’s story serves as proof that nearly anyone can improve their lives. Even if you don’t have time for a traditional part-time job, there are plenty of ways to earn cash on the side.

The key to being successful is the same no matter what your goal is:

In all things, you have to start somewhere.

Whether you’re facing student loan debt, trying to build an emergency fund, or striving to improve your lifestyle, you can do this. And if you adopt the hustle mentality, nothing will stand in your way.

Do you have the hustle mentality? Why or why not?