NJ graduate pays off $70,000 in student loans by starting a used book business
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While President Biden has floated the idea of canceling “some” student loan debt — an idea that has GOP and Democratic lawmakers worried, saying it would cost the government too much money and add to inflation — some university graduates with heavy debts don’t wait for someone or something to bail them out.
They move on, do the right thing, and find a way to pay off their own debt.
And for a Rutgers University grad, that meant a novel idea.
A native of New Jersey, Pathik Oza earned a BA from Rutgers University in 2018 — he studied psychology and biology — with $70,000 in student loans, he told Fox News Digital in an interview.
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And while Oza began to pursue another degree before his plans to go to medical school, he also discovered a passion for repatriating used and discarded books.
“I was walking one day during the summer, and I saw some books lying around there, and I thought there would be an opportunity,” he said.
“Why would books be thrown away? They could be redistributed to someone who might need them. So I just started this volunteer work where I would collect unwanted books,” he told Fox News Digital .
What started as a kind gesture and a chance to give back to local libraries, schools, shelters and children’s hospitals has turned into a sparkling new business opportunity.
A growing number of book requests and high demand for his services became something far too big for Oza and his Toyota RAV4.
Pathik Oza made the decision to turn book reselling into a profitable business.
So Oza made the decision to turn book reselling into a business. He started by opening an Amazon account.
He called his business O3 Books.
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“The profits would keep coming in and they just kept growing,” he said. “[In about] about a month, I had about 1,000-2,000 books in Amazon’s warehouses. So it was pretty cool to see the growth of the business.”
Oza continued to grow, launching a website and opening an Etsy store, which “blew up” as the world went into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
He also found that there was particularly high demand for his decorating book sets and redesigned dust jackets; he went in this direction to help spruce up work-from-home Zoom meeting backgrounds.
By the end of 2020, Oza had earned $115,000 from his side business — which covered his student loans in full, then some.
Oza has “learned a lot about finances,” he said, paying off his loans and fueling his own small business at the same time.
Oza said he “learned a lot about finance” paying off his loans and fueling his own business at the same time.
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Today, the 25-year-old said he would feel “more comfortable” taking out different forms of borrowing in the future based on the financial knowledge he has accumulated.
The success of O3 Books now pays Oza’s second degree in full, eliminating the burden of having to take out another loan.
The small business owner has since changed careers.
He’s pursuing a degree in computer science, though the thought of big medical school loans possibly in his future gave him an extra boost to deal with the debt he already had.
“I felt it was urgent to pay them back,” he said.
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For other students in debt who are looking for a way to pay off their loans, Oza said it’s a good idea to weigh the option of starting a small business. He particularly recommended taking advantage of online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy.
“Any passion you’ve started, there’s definitely a market for it,” he said.
“You only need a small portion [of the population] at [help] generate income in sales. As long as you have 1% of the customers, you have a full-fledged business,” he added. “There is always a market for something.
Growing his own business has given Oza a boost in financial literacy, so he also advised saving and investing his money is always the “best option”.
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“Make sure you understand the finances and the best way to split your income,” he said. “Loans are a burden no one wants – but you will get rid of them.”
Oza hopes to one day leave O3 Books to his parents – as an ongoing outlet for extra income. In other words, he wants it to stay in the family.
“It’s an amazing side income that I will keep forever,” he said. “I built a brand around it. I built a community around it. So that’s something I can’t let go of.”
“There is a market for your talent and there are many platforms you can use to showcase your skills.”
Oza also shared additional tips for anyone who needs extra income or money to pay off student debt.
“I would suggest getting a part-time job — and if you don’t have a lot of time, use those available hours to earn some money with a skill you have,” he said.
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“It could be anything like marketing, art, web design, app development or teaching… There is a market for your talent and there are many platforms you can use to showcase value your skills.”
“For example,” he added, “Instagram is a great place for artists to showcase their work…The best part about it is you can work when you’re available.”
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Says Oza, “Social media has opened up many opportunities to market your skills and allow you to create a side or potentially full-time income from a passion or skill you have. Again, if your situation allows you, try to reduce your expenses as much as possible.”