As of this year, there are currently 44 million Americans swamped in student loans. Considering the total U.S. population is just 331 million, odds are pretty good that you are one of these people. But how do you actually pay off student loans? How do you keep it from financially crippling you while you’re just starting to build your life? Simply stating that you should pay more money doesn’t really solve the problem, and is frankly about as useful of advice as telling you to pay off student loans by going on a gambling binge in Vegas. Then what can you do? In response to this commonly asked question, I offer several potential solutions to your student loan debt. With any luck, you should be able to use these to hasten yourself to finally pay off student loans and thus, attain that long-sought financial freedom from this enormous burden
One sure way to help pay off your student loans is to sign up for automatic payments immediately if you haven’t already. If you don’t, odds are pretty good that you’ll slack at some point and miss a payment, which can increase interest rates, damage your credit, and smack you with late-fees. Obviously, nobody wants that. Making auto-payments will ensure that you never miss a payment nor risk accruing interest as a result. What’s more, there are even some loan companies that will give you monetary incentives such as small discounts on interest (which can really add up after a while).
Let Your Loans Reflect Your Financial Standing
Okay, so chances are pretty good that you have not only student loans to pay off, but also credit card debt, car payments, legal fees, phone bills, and a thousand other things hovering over that. It’s important to prioritize your money expenditure correctly. Obviously don’t make a huge student loan payment if you’re about to have your lights cut off or get your car repoed. If you have kids or pets, they need to eat. Pay the minimum balance and hope you fair better next time. That said, however…
Use Your Bonus Money
If you find yourself in a relatively comfortable financial position and you receive any bonus money, use it to pay off student loans! It really doesn’t matter where it’s from – Christmas bonus, tax refund, inheritance, hit the jackpot while you were on a gambling binge in Vegas, whatever; use that extra money on getting those pesky student loans paid off ASAP! Again, you obviously don’t want to do bother trying to pay off student loans if you needed your little financial bumper-crop to pay for the lights, but if you are able, absolutely do it.
Look For Repayment Assistance In Your Job Searches
There are actually quite a few companies that offer student loan repayment assistance among their employee benefits. Although the difference from company to company can be substantial, this can be an excellent way to supplement your repayment efforts. Furthermore, there are also a number of companies that give repayment assistance in exchange for labor in the non-profit sector. You will need to complete said labor whilst simultaneously adhering to the company guidelines, but this too can be a great way to assist you to pay off student loans. Not only that, but you’ll be getting non-profit experience while making a difference.
Divide Your Payments
It’s safe to say that 200-300$ in monthly payments can be a colossal pain in the ass for anyone just starting to forge a life for themselves. One way you might be able to better manage is by splitting these monthly payments into bi-weekly payments. Figure out your paycheck schedule and fix it so that your payment dates hit your bank account right after your check does. From here meeting payments should be a breeze!
For those who don’t know, refinancing your student loans is when you take a single, large, and private loan out in order to pay off your numerous federal student loans. In order to do this, you’ll need fairly good credit. If you have the ability to do so, however, definitely look into it. You’ll want to do research on specific companies that will give you the loan and what their payment plans look like. You can opt to make larger payments in order to significantly reduce the number of years you’d otherwise have to pay off student loans. There are even some plans that will allow you to continue paying about the same with reduced interest rates. Plus there’s the simple fact that you’ll be paying off only one loan rather than numerous ones, making it substantially easier to keep upon.
Budget Your Money
This is a great tip, not only to pay off student loans but also just generally speaking. Budget your money! Banks usually have tools to help you budget out your bank account, or otherwise, you could take cash out and store it in labeled envelopes, or whatever helps you control your urge to spend money on things you don’t need. Time to be a grown-up and handle your financial business. No more frivolous purchases unless it’s budgeted. With any luck, doing this for a few pay periods should help you figure out whether or not you can put more money into paying off student loans.
Pay More Money
With everything else said, I’ll say it: pay more money! When the opportunity presents itself in the form of increased financial legroom, you should absolutely try to pay more monthly (or bi-weekly I suppose) to lift this monetary burden. Maybe you’ll get that raise at work you’ve been wanting, or perhaps you get your car all paid off, or whatever the case may be. If you’ve increased your income, you should absolutely increase your payments as well if you are able to.