Student loans. The daunting endgame of college. “You have to spend money to make money.” Yeah, but actually no. Not really. The classic hey you got a degree but you also have “fill-in-the-blank thousand” in debt as well. Regardless of whatever narrative you fall on the idea of paying off student loan debt is a stark one. However there is hope, and you now have the perfect opportunity to put that big brain to use. Still, in case you need help, here are a couple of realistic tips to help pay off one of the world’s most expensive pieces of paper.
The worst part about student loan debt is that it serves many as the first real foray into the real world of adulting. Trust me there will be home loans and car notes aplenty in the coming years. But that does little to mitigate the harsh reality of a 23-year-old staring into the abyssal debtor for the first time and trying to figure out how to pay off student loans.
So make a note – how much debt do you have? What is the term length? And so on. By getting a feel for the boundaries of the space, you can begin to learn the realistic scope of what you are dealing with. Once you have made a legitimate assessment, begin crunching the numbers.
These numbers are the pieces that make it possible and really, this article could end right here. Budget and pay over your minimum, i.e. know how much you have to pay and when, and then pay over that amount, while balancing a modest lifestyle with your current income.
Pay Over Your Minimum
Paying off student loans over your minimum payment works twofold. Not only does it get you closer to your endpoint faster, but it also lowers the interest you owe. So a win-win. While this is seemingly simple it does come with one major downside, with that being the ‘cost of living’ part of the budget shrinking substantially to accommodate the loan. Keep in mind the targeted dates are set for realism, but any amount you can assuage gets you closer to being able to put 100% of your take-home back in your pocket.
Make Financial Sacrifices
There are as many types of people under the sun as there are hues in an evening sky, however just as you must look upward to find the horizon’s full view, you may look to any given individual and know that they find something pleasurable that costs them money. Food, hobbies, family, whatever. Making financial sacrifices is about adhering to the budget and foregoing the smaller luxuries that you may otherwise afford.
Adhere to the Debt Snowball
In circumstances where the debt is varied and spread over multiple loans, it is advised to utilize ‘the Debt Snowball.’ The Debt Snowball is a method that prioritizes paying off the smallest loan first, then the second smallest, then the third smallest, and so on.
It is imperative to still be paying off your minimums on everything else, however, it allows for an easier time mentally budgeting out your finances. Additionally, the Debt Snowball methodology allows for the idea of mental freedom and alleviation as you begin to see all those debts slip away and disappear.
Refinance Your Student Loans
Firstly, this move isn’t always the right choice. Whether the tax is federal or private, whittling it down can be extremely difficult. When looking to refinance you are effectively allowing another interest group to buy your debt. Refinancing is in essence having someone pay off your debt thus giving you new terms of debt to pay off at the new discretion.
It basically comes down to your raw numbers. Are you getting better terms, is your new payment plan agreeable, does it work better with your current lifestyle? Refinancing is an intricate process with lots of odds and ends. Working through it can be worth it, however, in cases where you are making the payments more accessible and realistic.
After this, the predominant ways to work through student debt revolves around ways to allocate and aggregate more money.
Apply Spare Income Toward Payment
Side hustles, raises, and tax returns. These are great ways to get an edge on each and every payment. While they are not blunt in ways of re-working the existing debt and serving to function as a business all their own, they do provide an influx of cash. This additional income can assuage the cost of living. By adding these new sources of revenue to your finances you will increase pay and decrease the time required to pay it off. Furthermore, this method requires two parts:
Allocate Spare Income
Routinely doing these two things will reduce debt for the individual and get you back on track to paying off any remaining debt. This method requires extra effort. At the same time, it also allows for the individual to have recurring revenue methods and other outlets and skills that will remain once the debt has been paid off.
Among all of these listed methods of paying off student loans, it can be useful to employ different methods. Staggering them can help. Sometimes even combining methods of debt reduction can get you to the promised land. Either way, consistent payment over an achievable period is always the most sound advice.