Paying off student loans is a huge struggle far too many of us deal with. It’s a stressful burden that many accept as a part of life for sometimes ten plus years. However, you don’t need to allow student loans to control your life for years to come. Keep reading to learn five steps to paying off your student loans fast.
There is plenty of advice out there on deferment of loans or loan forgiveness for military personnel or government employees. Therefore, I’m going to focus on what to do if it is inevitable that you will be in charge of every single last penny of your debt. As well as if you are in a position where you can start getting rid of it right now.
Step One: Understand Your Loans
For a lot of us, we had our parents assist in taking out our student loans. Now we are receiving all this mail and may not have any idea what any of it means.
Educating yourself on your loan repayment plan is an absolute must when starting your debt pay off journey. Educate yourself on your loan repayment plan, interest rates, and the importance of making your payments on time each month.
There are a ton of books on student loan debt out there. Go pick one up or start researching the web.
Step Two: Plan Your Attack
There are so many different ways to go about paying off your debt. You can start by paying off your most expensive loans first. Or you can start by paying off your smallest loans first. Another route is paying off the loans with the highest interest rate first. Or you can have no plan at all… but don’t do that.
Each method has its own reasoning for why you should pay off your loans in that manner. Personally, I think the best way to go is to pay off the loans with the highest interest rate first. Why? Because it saves you money in the long run! The longer you hold on to that sucker, the more you’ll owe.
However, some people find that if they can pay off their smaller loans first, it builds their momentum, helping them tackle the bigger ones. Truly, as long as you’re working towards paying off your loans, any method will work.
Step Three: Set up Automatic Payments
I cannot express enough how important it is to make your payments each month.
Make this easy on yourself and immediately set up automatic payments. That way the money is automatically taken from your bank account each month. No more blaming your terrible memory on why you were late on your payment again this month.
Step Four: Make Realistic Goals
Most finance books begin with the same rule – keep a budget. If keeping track of your finances isn’t your forte, try using a website like Mint.com.
Once you have a sense of how much extra money you can throw at your loans each month, make a realistic goal for yourself to pay off more than you normally would in an average month.
Being ambitious about paying off your goals is a great thing. Be sure to not discourage yourself though by making goals that are too unrealistic. Regardless, stay positive and realistic. This isn’t necessarily an enjoyable process for anyone. Know that you are certainly not alone and use every payment as motivation to keep going until they’re gone!
Step Five: Supplement Your Income
The main way you are going to be able to pay off your student debt considerably faster is by supplementing your income. Start selling old clothes on eBay, babysitting on the weekends, dog walking around the neighborhood, freelance writing, become a virtual assistant, or get a retail gig around the holidays.
There are so many different ways to make extra money. And every little bit helps when you’re tackling your student loan debt.
Here are some additional tips for paying off student loans:
- See if your work offers a school repayment/compensation package
- If you are in a position where you can pay more than the minimum each month, do it
- Put any bonuses or cash gifts towards your loans
Are you a recent college grad dealing with student loans?
Do you have any tips or tricks on how to pay off your student debt?