Millions of Americans are struggling to pay off their student loan debts and they feel as if it is a never-ending process. Are you one of them? If your answer is yes, keep reading.
Paying off your student loans seem totally overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter if you’ll be graduating from college soon or you’ve been trying to pay off those student loans for a decade, you can make a plan for paying off student loans quickly.
Being realistic, you’re not going to pay them off overnight. So let’s kiss that idea good-bye before it cripples your motivation to be debt-free.
By following these steps, you can get on a fast track to dumping your student loan debt for good. Paying off your student loans takes time, hard work, and a whole lot of sacrifice, but it is absolutely doable. So, do not give up and check out these tips below to help you become debt-free faster.
I’m not kidding. If you’re not already doing this, now is the time to make a budget and stick to it. A monthly budget will show you exactly where your money is going and where you can cut back. You might find “extra” money you didn’t know you had.
Use that “extra” money to pay off more of your student loans each month and you’ll be paid off and out of debt faster!
A simple Google search for “budget” will return several good budget templates that make it easy for you even if you’re not an accounting expert.
If nothing else, budgeting is just a good financial habit to pick up. Dealing with finances becomes a lot easier when you know how much money you have coming in and how it is being spent.
2. Pay More Than the Minimum Payment
This is the most common advice you will probably get but it needs to be said because it works. If you’re only paying the minimum payment each month, you’re not getting anywhere fast. You might not even be breaking even with the interest you’re piling up! By making larger payments, you’ll be able to pay of the amount you owe at a quicker rate.
Here’s an example:
- Let’s say you have the typical $35,000 in student loan debt that the average student graduates with.
- With a 6% interest rate (typical interest rates range from 4.53–7.08%) and a 10-year loan term (which is also common), you’d be looking at a minimum monthly payment of about $389.
- Because of interest, your total repayment amount would be $46,629. That’s $11,629 more than your original loan.
- But let’s say you decided to pay just 20% more (that’s $77) than your minimum payment each month. That would put your monthly payment at around $466—which means you’d pay off your entire loan in about eight years and save over $2,600 in interest!
- If you paid over 20% more than your minimum payment each month, you’d pay off your loan even faster.
Pro Tip: When you pay more than the minimum monthly payment, the student loan servicers might put that extra amount onto next month’s payment. That pushes the due date back, but you won’t actually pay off your loan any faster. Tell your loan servicer to keep next month’s due date the same and to just apply the extra amount of money to your current loan balance.
Again, this is the most common advice because it works. However, I understand this might not be feasible for you especially if you’re reading this article in the first place.
3. Make Some Sacrifices
Take a look at your lifestyle. What extra stuff have you been living with that you can do without? Can you get rid of your cable package? Eliminate a subscription box or magazine subscription. Maybe cut your housing cost in half by finding a roommate or start eating out at restaurants less to save money on food. Turn a guest room that’s not getting much use into a room you rent. Take a good look at how you spend your money and get creative with ways you can cut back and save. Take those savings and apply them to pay off your loans.
4. The Debt Snowball
The debt snowball method is my favorite method to pay off credit card debt. It also can be used with student loans. List all your loan debts (that include private loans, secured loans, unsecured loans, etc.) from the smallest balance to largest. Start paying on the smallest student loan balance first. Any extra money you have should be used for paying off that first debt while still paying the minimums on everything else.
Once you’ve paid off the first debt, move to the second-smallest balance. Take everything you were putting toward the first one and add it to the minimum of the second balance. Once that debt is paid, move on to the next one and repeat the process until you’re finally out of debt.
This might seem like it will take forever, and I admit it will not happen overnight. But as you work the debt snowball method, you’ll feel the progress you’re making as each student loan disappears. Knocking those smaller loans out first will give you a couple of quick wins and help you stay motivated to start taking down the bigger student loans.
5. Apply Every Raise and Windfall Toward Paying Off Your Student Loans
What do most people do when they get a raise or come into a windfall of money? They blow through it like it’s nothing. Their living expenses get voluntarily increase and then it feels like they didn’t get a raise.
Forget the new TV or shoes you want. Take the extra income and apply it to your loan. If you know you can already afford to pay the bills, any extra cash will get you out of debt faster if you apply it directly to the loan instead of living a little more lavishly. you can do that once the loan is paid off!
6. Get a Side Hustle
Is your income the biggest hurdle for paying off your loans? Pick up a part-time job on the nights or weekends that can help you stack cash quickly. Use that extra cash directly on your student loan debt There’s a ton of side hustle options out there such as driving an Uber, walking dogs, babysitting, or having a yard sale and using the proceeds to pay off an extra month’s worth. Every bit helps.