In the United States, over 44 million graduates owe around $1.5 trillion in student debt. In fact, around 70% graduate with this debt. So more often than not, once Americans are done with their studies (usually in their early 20s), they’re already saddled with some serious debt.
Your 20s should be a relatively carefree time, but considering most Americans have serious debt, this isn’t always possible.
If this is the situation you’re in, then naturally, you may be looking for ways on how to pay off student loans fast so you can start saving and achieving life goals.
If you’re wondering how to pay off your student loans efficiently, then keep reading. We’ll give you some helpful advice so you can get on the road to a debt-free life.
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Don’t Just Make the Minimum Payments
We know—it’s hard parting ways with your hard-earned money, especially if you’re just starting out in your adult life. And it may be easier to make minimum payments, especially since you have other bills to pay, such as rent, groceries, utilities, and gas.
But the best way to go about your student loan payments is to go above the minimum amount as much as possible.
Let’s say your minimum payments are $100 per month. But if you’re making good money at your job, can pay off all your bills comfortably, don’t just go for $100 each month. Instead, raise that to $200 or even $300 if possible.
Of course, this won’t be feasible for everyone. Sometimes, you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and you barely have anything leftover for your student loans.
In this case, not to worry. Just make the minimum payments you can, but if you get any extra money coming in (such as a work bonus or some holiday cash from relatives), don’t be tempted to splurge. Of course, you should treat yourself for working hard, but try and apply most (if not all) of your windfalls to your loan repayments.
If you’re on social media, then you may be aware of some fun challenges people like to do for a short period of time, such as Dry January. Not only can these challenges be fun to participate in, but you can also improve your health and save some money while you’re at it!
For example, if you usually head to the bar and/or club with friends every Friday and Saturday evening, you probably have quite a few drinks before and during your outing. If you cut the expense of those drinks out for a whole month, you can be looking at an amount that’s enough for an extra loan payment, maybe even 2!
And the best thing is, you may discover new things about yourself you never knew. Perhaps you’ll find that you can enjoy nights out without alcohol and decide to extend Dry January for longer, maybe even for the rest of your life. Not only will you be healthier, but you’ll have lots more money to put toward loan repayment, which means you’ll be able to settle your debt quicker.
Split Your Payments Up
They say breaking large things up into smaller bits can be easier to handle. This is definitely true of student loans.
If you need to pay a minimum of $200 every month, this may be difficult, especially if all your other bills are due around the same time. But if you split that 1 payment up into 2 payments of $100 every 2 weeks, it’ll probably be a lot easier to handle. Not only will you receive another paycheck later on in the month (if you’re paid biweekly), but you won’t have other bills to pay off at that time either.
Another hidden benefit of splitting your payments up is you actually get an extra month’s payment in. When you only pay once a month, then that’s only 12 payments a year.
However, when you pay every 2 weeks, this adds up to 26 payments in the year, which equals 13 months. If you keep up this repayment schedule for a decade, then you’ll shave an entire year off your payment schedule!
Take Advantage of Autopay
We know what you may be thinking with the last piece of advice: more payments equals more things to remember!
But this isn’t necessarily true if you sign up for autopay. Most, if not all lenders allow you to simply go online and sign up for autopay so an approved amount is taken out of your bank account on a schedule that you approve.
This means you don’t have to remember a thing at all! As a result, you’ll never have late payments; these can result in late fees, which just add to the total amount of debt you have.
Another benefit of using autopay is some lenders will offer you discounts for using their autopay feature. No late payments and discounts? That’s certainly a win-win situation!
Consolidate Your Student Loans
If you’ve taken out several loans to get through college, then it may be hard to keep track of each one. Even if you sign up for autopay for every single one, you still might be dealing with different interest rates, which can be difficult on your finances.
Is this the case with your student loan debt? Then consider consolidating your student loans.
Consolidating means to pay off all your student loans with one new line of credit. That way, instead of owing several lenders, you only owe one.
Plus, you might be able to find a credit card with a lower interest rate, which means you’d be paying a smaller amount over time. Another great perk of signing up for a new line of credit is many offer a promotion for the first year, such as 0% interest. This can help immensely in cutting down how much you owe.
Another perk of signing up for a credit card is many of them offer rewards. So this means while you’re consolidating your debt, you can also save some money on other aspects of your life. For example, you may get some money back or qualify for a discount at participating merchants, which means you can save some money on everyday charges.
Some rewards cards do charge annual fees, but that’s not always an automatic “no” when signing up for credit cards. Do some careful research to see if the annual fees will pay off. You may find that with the qualifying merchants on a particular card’s list, you might be able to make back the annual fee in no time, which makes it completely worth signing up for and using.
Find a Job With Loan Repayment Assistance
You may not know this, but some jobs come with the perk of assistance with student loan repayments.
Traditionally, many employers offered just tuition reimbursement. This meant you could attend university while working and either not pay a cent or get significant help with tuition.
Although it’s quite a new practice, and not many employers are currently doing this, there are a few select companies that are offering to help their employees with student loan repayments. So not only can you get paid (and put some of your paychecks toward your student loans), but you’ll also have some extra help from your employer.
You may have to look extra hard when job searching, but if you find an employer that’ll help pay your student loans, then you’re golden. Some examples include Aetna, Nvidia, and Chegg.
Volunteer to Get Loan Repayment Assistance
Not too many people know this either, but some volunteer programs will help you with student loan debts if you offer your time on their nonprofit projects. They’ll have some guidelines you need to follow, but it can be a great way to help your local community and to get assistance with your student loans as well.
Know How to Pay off Student Loans Fast for a Debt-Free Life
They say marriage is “the old ball and chain,” but truthfully, that’s a better descriptor for student loans. Once you graduate, you’re most likely burdened with payments for a good length of time; for some, it can be for decades.
It can be disheartening to be a fresh graduate and see a long road of student debt repayments in front of you. But if you take our advice into consideration, and you know how to pay off student loans fast, you can go about it in a smart way. As a result, instead of spending decades hard at work, you can reduce your repayment period and be rid of your student loans for good, all within a shorter amount of time.
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