What’s the worst part of being an adult and a millennial? Ya nailed it! STUDENT LOANS!
Student loans are literally the bane of my existence. But you know what? You and I aren’t the only ones struggling with this. This is a generational struggle! As a country we are $1.44 TRILLION dollars in student loan debt. Which is, coincidentally, only about $5-$10 more than I personally owe *sobs loudly, gathers self*. And there are 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt. So yea, we’re not alone in this!
But we don’t have to be a statistic. We can all be student loan free! I know! That sounds like a dream right? Well it’s not; it’s absolutely possible. If you’re willing to sacrifice (and I’m not gonna sugar coat this) a BUNCH, and get a little finance savvy, you can break the student loan cycle and no longer be a statistic!
Right now you’re probably thinking: “Okay, T.A. so what do I need to do to lose my student loan debt?”
I’m so excited you asked! Here are some tips and tricks that I used to lower my overall student loan debt, and drastically lower my monthly payments.
Check your bank account daily
Yea so this may seem very basic, but it’s a necessity. If you guys are anything like me, then you will do anything to put off looking at your bank account. I used to cringe whenever I checked my account balance. But checking your balance is the first step towards gaining financial freedom. If you constantly check it, then you always know where you stand financially. You can see where you’re overspending, and where you can cut costs. After all, you can’t get your finances in check if you don’t check your finances. Am I right? That was a rhetorical question. I am right. Check your bank account.
Make your morning coffee
You may think that your $3 Dunkin iced coffee is a pretty cheap purchase, right? That’s what I thought too. But think of it like this; you go to work around 20 days every month. And let’s say you buy that iced coffee everyday on your way into work. That’s $60 a month that you’re spending on coffee. Now maybe $60 a month doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but let’s spread that over a year. Now you’re looking at $720 that you’ve spent…on freakin’ coffee! Now maybe you’re still thinking “Eh, $720 in a whole year doesn’t sound so bad…” But now let’s add the little sandwich that you get with your coffee, or your croissant. The point is, your little purchases add up, and then all of a sudden they’re big purchases. Find something that you’re spending on regularly, and cut that out of your budget. Now you’re going to take that money that you were spending on those little purchase, and you’re going to apply that to your student loans. I’m going to get into this more in depth down below.
The Snowball Method
I learned about the snowball method about a year ago. This method of paying off debt helped me to pay off my car loan, and start chipping away at my student loan debt. The snowball method is all about taking the money you have and applying it to your smallest debt. Once your smallest debt is paid off you then take the money you were spending on that debt, and apply it to your next smallest debt. For example, let’s say you had a credit card payment of $200 a month, and you also had a car payment of $400 a month. You would take all of your available funds and throw it at your credit card payment. Once that were paid off, you would then take the $200 that was going to the credit card payment and apply it to the car payment. So instead of just paying $400 a month you would be paying $600 a month. The snowball method allows you to pay your debt off faster, and allows you to get one step ahead of accruing interest.
I had a friend in college, who during freshman year immediately got a job and started making interest payments on his student loans. And he did this all four years of college. At the time I truly and honestly had no concept of what he was doing. I just thought that it sucked that he couldn’t go to parties. I don’t know who was giving him his financial advice, but I wish that person had adopted me. He probably saved himself thousands of dollars in student loans. To be honest, I didn’t borrow that much money in student loans. But the interest that accrued during the deferment period, aka my 4 years of college, and 3 more years of law school absolutely contributed to my current balance. Had I been paying the interest on my student loans as it accrued my debt would be significantly smaller today.
So if you can’t afford to make huge additional monthly payments on your student loans, the very least you should do is pay the interest that accrues on your loans as it accrues.
If you’re anything like me then you probably have student loans from multiple banks. And your interest rates also probably suck. If these things are true for you, then the only way to beat your debt is to refinance your student loans. If you don’t know what it means to refinance your debt, here is a simple explanation. You basically just get another bank to pay off all of your student loans for you. And instead of having debt from multiple banks, or having debt from one bank with a sucky interest rate, you have debt with one bank and preferably a lower interest rate. So the benefit of refinancing your student loans is that you would have a lower interest rate (aka less debt), and you’d have the convenience of having to pay one person. It’s really that simple!
Okay guys, those are the simple tricks that I implemented in my life that helped me to pay off a massive amount of my debt. I still have trillions of dollars to pay off, but I know that if I do these things consistently I will be debt free! Let me know if you guys have any tips or tricks that I didn’t list here!