College isn’t the best option for everyone. Some will do just as well if not better by learning their craft through apprenticeships or by simply enrolling in a trade school. But when college is part of your calling and you simply cannot juggle a part-time job and school, taking on private school loans might be your only option.
If this is your case, don’t despair. It is true that the government’s long history of getting involved with the student loan industry made the situation worse.
But despite the evidence, regulators don’t seem ready to get out of the picture just yet, meaning the cost of a college education will continue to rise. To many, this means tens of thousands of dollars in the red the moment they step out of school. And if alumni aren’t careful, that reality could affect their credit and their chances to own a home or even buy a car.So how do you speed up the process of paying off your student loan without putting everything you earn toward your debt? And how can you follow through before turning 30?
Here are five practical tips that literally everyone can follow to put an end to student debt quickly.
1: Live Frugally
Sounds like your grandpa’s advice, right? That’s because it is. And you know what? He was right: trimming your budget never fails. Especially if your first years as a professional aren’t being spent on high-paying jobs. Furthermore, cutting your monthly expenses will help you to afford doing things you love while paying off your debt. Unfortunately, young people today aren’t as good at saving as the last generations, so finding ways to stop spending so much might not be all that easy—at first.
If you live in a big city, explore the idea of having roommates, especially if you’re close to a college campus.
Former college colleagues might be in the same boat and might be more than willing to share an apartment with you. But if that’s not an option, how about finding current students who are looking to save some money by sharing a place?
When budgeting for food, remember to keep it simple and cheap by not going out to eat.
There are countless online accounts that teach you how to cook simple and cheap meals at home. That means that if you have access to WiFi, you, too, can conquer the kitchen. Also, consider slashing Starbucks and other side expenses that aren’t a necessity from your monthly budget. You will be surprised to know you could be saving over $2,000 per year!
Whatever you save, put it toward paying off your debt. Remember, making more than the minimum payment each month is the best way to get rid of debt rapidly.
2: Find Yourself A Side Gig
Side gigs are in style these days, and that has a lot to do with student loan debt repayment. After all, a lot of people find that their single-job income isn’t enough. Like others who found themselves in need of extra work, you, too, might have to take on a side gig.
If you have a car, you might want to join Uber or Lyft and do a little hustling a few days here and there. You could even rent your car to others who don’t have one. But if neither of those options will work for you, using sites such as Fiverr and TaskRabbit to make some extra spending money, or even renting a room in your home on Airbnb, could do the trick. You could also be part of mock juries for extra cash, as lawyers are always trying to test their cases to mock juries before going to court. To those living near law schools, this might be extra easy.
In addition to gigs that don’t require any special skills, there are also side gigs you might be qualified for that could help you pay off your debt sooner.
If you like dogs, you can become a pet sitter using sites such as Rover, Petsitter.com, or even looking for opportunities on Craigslist. And if you have special skills, such as knowing other languages, you can work as a translator on Gengo or Upwork or find companies looking for part-time, remote workers.
You can also use Amazon Mechanical Turk to do easy tasks like visit websites, identify objects on photos or videos, fill out surveys, write content, and others that don’t require much time.
Whatever you do, keep it simple. There are plenty of opportunities, especially if you can work online and from home in your spare time.
3: Explore Tax Deductions And Other Credits
When working on your tax returns, keep in mind you might be eligible for student loan interest deductions even if you don’t itemize your taxes. While some requirements must be met, this could easily deduct up to $2,500 on your taxes yearly, helping you to keep more of your money and put it toward paying off debt.
While taxation is a drag on our efforts to make ends meet, it’s important to take advantage of any and all tax deductions we can get. Especially if we’re in the red.
4: Make Extra Payments
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? And that’s because it is. But simply sending the financing company an extra check every month won’t do. After all, many firms simply apply any extra payment to the next month’s bill, and this won’t help you pay your loan faster.
The right way to send extra payments monthly is to contact your service provider in advance and instruct them to apply any extra payment to that month’s due balance without changing anything about the next month’s due date. By following this strategy, you could be debt-free years ahead of schedule.
5: Refinance (But Only If You Meet These Requirements)
The idea of refinancing is to be able to bring your interest rate low enough that your student loan debt will be faster to repay. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to take this short cut since it requires good credit and steady employment.
Before considering taking this route, check your credit. If it’s in the high 600s and you have a history of on-time debt payments and solid, steady income, then you are a good candidate for refinancing.
For instance, if you have $50,000 in debt and you refinance it, lowering your 8.5 percent interest rate to 4.5 percent, you could end up paying off your debt two years earlier than you originally expected.
Another advantage of refinancing is that it replaces several student loans with one private loan. You pay to one service provider at a lower rate, and you can choose new loan terms that are shorter and that will help to save you big bucks in the end. While this may drive your monthly payment minimums up, it will save you money in the long run and make your everyday life easier—even if you have to hustle a bit for a few years before being able to relax and enjoy your hard-earned money!
However, if you have a federal loan that offers benefits such as income-driven repayments, refinance won’t be the best option.
So what are you waiting for?
By following these practical tips, you should be debt-free and ready to even start saving for retirement! Think ahead, friends, and you will go far.
Chloe Anagnos is a professional writer, digital strategist, and marketer. Although a millennial, she’s never accepted a participation trophy.
This article was sourced from FEE.org
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