Although there may not be a quick fix to making student loans disappear overnight, there are ways to achieve a future free of student loan debt, and it may be closer than you think.
Ok let’s get to it, but first things first, what’s the damage?
Start by identifying the lender for each loan. Then, evaluate the interest rate, minimums due, and total amount of money you owe each month. Next, consider these key strategies that can help you save money, lower the balance, and stay on track to paying off your student loans faster.
How to Pay Off Student Loans Efficiently
Set a budget. Calculate your monthly income, expenses, and individual spending habits. Use this information to determine a savings goal that is manageable for your individual financial situation. Create a realistic plan that you can stick to and maintain detailed records using a budgeting app or spreadsheet to track progress.
Eliminate excess spending. Separate your wants from your needs and eliminate the wants. Don’t worry, it’s only temporary. Reduce or remove streaming subscriptions, limit take-out meals, and reconsider the purchases that do not align with your goal to be student loan debt-free. Then, apply the money you save directly to the loan payments.
Separate your funds. Open a new high-yield checking or savings account with no fees and low minimums designated for your student loan payments. A separate account can help you avoid the temptation to use student loan money on discretionary or household purchases. Set up direct deposit with a portion of your paycheck to keep the account funded so automatic payments from the lender can be withdrawn monthly.
Lower the rate. If interest rates on your existing student loans are high, consider consolidating and refinancing with a lender that has a lower interest rate. You’ll owe less interest over time, which can help you reduce the outstanding balance faster. If obtaining a lower interest rate is not an option, pay as much money as you can each month, to the smallest loan balance first and continue to pay the minimum due on the other loans. Once the smallest loan is paid off, apply the amount you paid to it each month to the next smallest balance plus that loan’s minimum due, and continue this pattern until all loans are paid in full.
Make extra payments. If your budget allows, make a few extra payments each year or pay more than the minimum due each month. The extra money you pay can help reduce the loan faster, plus, there’s no penalty for paying off your student loans ahead of schedule.
Sign up for discounts. Take advantage of discounts that may be offered by your lender. Accounts enrolled in automatic payments and paperless billing may qualify for a reduction on your monthly installment.
Earn additional income. Get a part time job doing something you love. If you enjoy what you’re doing it may not even feel like work, and it will feel great when you apply those extra paychecks to your student loans.
Sell unwanted items. Assess your belongings and gather items you no longer want, use, or need and turn them into cash. List items to one of the free apps that help sell lightly used electronics, sporting equipment, clothes, and more.
Use what you’ve got. Your skills can earn you extra cash to pay your loans. Tutor, cook, make home or car repairs, run errands, or provide other services for friends, family, and neighbors.
Allocate found money. Apply money you receive from tax refunds, gifts, work bonuses, or other sources to your loans to help you get closer to your goal.
The Best Way to Pay Off Student Loans is Consistency
Your future begins now. The best way to pay off student loans is to choose what’s best for your personal situation. Whatever you decide, be consistent and keep your eye on the goal. The healthy financial habits you start today can provide lifelong benefits for you and your money.