Student Loan Stress? Utilize These Steps to Make Paying a Breeze
After college, there are many things that are on a recent graduate’s mind.
Not only will there be job interviews and career planning to worry about, but there’s also something else looming on the graduate’s mind: student loans.
Paying off student loans has become a major challenge for those who have graduated with a four year college degree. As of 2021, student loan debt has totaled up to around 1.7 trillion dollars in the United States.
This number is staggering, and it doesn’t even account for the additional costs that can come with being a student.
If you’re a recent graduate who’s looking to pay off their student loans, you’re not alone. While it may be overwhelming, there are a number of ways you can make the process easier.
Organize Your Financial Life
Before you start tackling your debt, there are a few preliminary steps you should take to get your finances on track. One of these is making a budget.
Creating a monthly budget allows you to keep track of your spending, giving you the opportunity to discover where to cut back and where you’ll need to reallocate money.
For example, once you know where you can decrease your spending on certain expenses, you can use that to make more room in your budget to allocate funds toward your loan.
After graduation, you’ll likely have a new job or will be in the process of trying to find one. If you have financial paperwork from your new job and student loans, be sure you keep track of it by keeping copies of it online or in a filing cabinet at home. Information like this will be vital as you work to pay down your debt.
Going even further, paying off credit card debt or car loans can get you financially ahead of the game so you can focus more on your college loan payments.
This comes with an added bonus of potentially boosting your credit score. Increasing your score can also improve the options available to you if you want to refinance your student loans.
Find Refinancing Options
Student loan refinancing is a great way to help ease your college loan payments.
Refinancing works by having a loan company pay off your initial loans from your initial lenders, who will then have you pay them back. Refinancing allows you to consolidate multiple loans from different companies or lower your interest rate.
Before considering any refinancing options, it’s important to ask yourself this question: are you ready to refinance your student loans?
If so, there are a few factors associated with your credit score, savings, and salary that you should consider, since each can impact both your need and eligibility.
Begin by deciding if the amount of debt you have would make refinancing your loans worth it. If you don’t have too much debt, refinancing might make it more difficult to pay down your loans in the long run.
If you believe refinancing is the best option for you, take the time to research and determine the best options to combine your payments.
Pay More Than the Minimum
When it comes time to start the payment process for your loans, see if there is room in your budget for additional payments, or consider adding to your monthly payment so you are paying more than the minimum due.
Either option will pay off those loans faster, as consistently paying the minimum will likely prolong the debt.
At first, it might seem daunting to pay more than the minimum. However, if you’ve already taken steps to make room in your budget to pay down your loans, then you’re already on the right track!
Also, you don’t need to increase your payments all at once. Instead, try finding spots in your budget where you can cut back every few months and put extra funds toward your loans.
Some loan companies also offer an option to set up auto payments, which can help you stay on track to pay off your student loans within a certain number of years.
Either way, small incremental increases to your monthly payment over time can add up in the long run, resulting in less payments, less interest, and less time worrying about college costs.
Make Time for Stress-Free Activities
Even when you’re ahead of the game when it comes to reducing your debt, there can still be a lot of financial stress and anxiety when dealing with student loans. This is why it’s important to make sure that you take the time to be lenient with yourself.
Find ways to reduce stress when possible through financial management journaling, meditation exercises, and deep breathing techniques.
If those options aren’t your cup of tea, incorporate daily walks into your routine or plan activities with your friends and family.
If done correctly, you can also add some wiggle room in your budget to finance activities you enjoy. This way, even while you’re busy paying off debt, you can still do the things you love.
While you will likely need to cut back on some spending while paying off your loans, you won’t need to pinch pennies either, and finding that balance can help reduce your stress overall.
By following these steps, you will be well on your way to reducing your student loans (and the stress associated with them!). Once you’ve finally paid off this major life debt, you will have more financial freedom and stability in your future.
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