Personal finance expert Suze Orman has nothing but compliments for Roy Patterson.
The 31-year-old paid off over $55,000 in student loan debt in four years by foregoing dinners out, vacations and new clothing while increasing his income year after year. Now that he's debt-free, the former Philadelphia resident is focused on building up his net worth. Overall, Orman is impressed. "Learn from this man," she says.
It helps that Patterson considers Orman something of a money mentor. During his senior year of college, Patterson and his mother watched Orman's CNBC show every week. Orman's "tough love" approach resonated with him and inspired him to tackle his debt.
"I can't criticize somebody who really spent most of his time watching me," Orman jokes.
Here are Orman's big takeaways from Patterson's financial journey.
Be careful with student loan debt
Orman applauds Patterson's dedication to paying off his student loans and becoming debt-free.
"What Roy obviously heard me say... is that student loan debt is the most dangerous debt that you can have because in most cases it's not dischargeable in bankruptcy," she says. "If there was one debt that you really wanted to get out of, that would be your student loan debt."
Score easy savings wins
Patterson enjoys eating out, but also makes a point to cook many meals at home. He has been learning how to make Jamaican cuisine, which his dad often made for him and his family growing up.
"You all waste so much money going out to eat," Orman says. "I'm a very wealthy woman and I don't like to go out to eat because I don't like to waste money. I value every single penny that I have. So cook at home, save money, it's just that simple."
Be smart with side hustles
Patterson has big plans to grow his net worth, including one day buying a rental property. But Orman says to be careful. There's a big difference between buying a place to live and buying a place you hope to turn a profit on.
She suggests saving up both a 20% down payment and at least a year's worth of emergency expenses for the rental property before buying.
"Look at what happened during Covid," she says. "If you're financing this and you have a mortgage payment and your tenant can't pay you for whatever reason, you have to be able to carry all the payments on that for at least a year."
That warning aside, Orman sees great things in Patterson's financial future.
"I love this guy. I want him to be my son," Orman says. "So proud of him."
Watch Orman's full reaction to Patterson's spending and savings habits.