I was 23 when I got out of college, owing 68K.
I was 24 when I started to figure out things about the world, that i didnt really feel satisfied by the amount of money i was looking at keeping after working 40hrs a week.
I started reading, and i started saving. I read about investments (equity, real estate, etc) until i felt i knew what was going on. I did not spend money on frivilous things, and i sent as much as possible to the highest interest loan. Whenever i had a windfall of any size, it was all sent to debt.
A better job, some loan forgiveness from my parents, and three years have passed. I have my personal house with my girlfriend, which we bought at a foreclosure auction. We have two roommates. We have also bought three other rentals in the last 12 months. one was a disaster (black mold ->gutted), but we shall overcome. They werent all the best deals they could have been, but I learned as I went. I do not have a nice car, or a flat screen tv, but i will. DELAY GRATIFICATION, if for only a couple of years. it makes a bigger difference than you can think while sitting there.
I now have no debt except the mortgages. I only make 40K a year, in case anyone thinks otherwise. It can be done, anything can be done, if you make it a priority. My retirement is fully funded for the year before I do anything else, and I have the usual emergency fund etc. I fill up each hole and then move on to the next.
If you do not make all of your daily and long term decisions/expenses with weighing it's impact on your goal in mind, you will not make it. I refused to let my life play out how it looked.
once you get things going, they seem to fall into place better than you could ever have imagined.
two things to ponder that help me a lot
"More is lost by indecision, than by wrong decision" Tony Soprano
"Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet"
get lucky. it is possible, you must want it badly enough though.