It doesn’t take long following college for the excitement of graduation to come and go, particularly when you realize how much student loan debt you have to pay back.
More than 44 million Americans* have student loan debt and the average for the Class of 2017 was $39,400, a number that seems to rise every year.
Don’t get stuck carrying a huge amount of debt for decades. Here are eight tips you can use today to ensure your student loan debt can be paid off early.
1. First: Get Your Credit Score To A Good Place
Before you start dealing with paying down your student loans, you need to give your credit score some attention. A good credit score can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with your loans.
You might not realize it, but it’s your responsibility to make sure the information on your credit reports remains accurate. If you don’t check your three credit reports for errors, no one is going to do it for you.
Unfortunately, incorrect information ends up on credit reports often — typically due to credit reporting mistakes or fraud. When negative information appears on your credit reports, it might damage your score (whether the information is correct or not).
Use Credit Sesame to instantly check on your credit score for free without hurting it.
We don’t know about you, but a free credit score coach that fits in your pocket sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Why would you pass that up? And a good credit score is going to mean a lot more options when it comes to paying back your loans.
2. Next, Research Refinancing Your Student Loans, Like, Immediately
The first thing to remember when going about refinancing your student loans is that it’s not an option for federal loans. Private loans, though, are fair game. Because private student loan borrowers usually first take out these student loans when they have a limited credit profile (as young adults, starting college) they are treated as high-risk borrowers by lenders initially. But a person’s situation might have changed dramatically since graduating and entering the workforce.
In plain English: If you have good credit, a decent paying job, and have graduated, you are likely a prime candidate to refinance. Stop paying high interest rates you had no choice but to agree to back in the day.
Credible is a great resource to start your refinancing search. The online marketplace allows you to easily compare and contrast rates and options from multiple borrowers at once. You’ll also get actual rates in just two minutes (a lot of comparison sites promise this, but then don’t deliver).
3. Supercharge Your Repayment Plan Today
If you really want to supercharge how fast you pay off your student loans, SoFi is a great bet.
They’re one of the largest student loan refinancers. If you have a high income and a strong credit history, definitely look into them, because they offers low-interest rates and no predetermined maximum loan amount.
SoFi also one of the best options for people who really want to pay off their student loans quickly because you can make biweekly and greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.
They also offer multiple in-school repayment options, including interest-only, partial and deferred.
4. Find Some Extra Money in Your Budget You Didn’t Know You Had
Do you know exactly when you’ll be debt-free? If not, then you should do the math, get a date, and until that day comes, cut out as many unnecessary expenses as you can (like all those streaming and subscription box services you probably have — am I right?). Remember, this will only be for the short term and the sacrifices you make today will only lead to more financial freedom in the future.
There’s no need to do this on your own: Analyze your financial health using Truebill. When you link your bank account to the app, it will track and organize all of your spending so you can see exactly where your money is going. Use it to manage your subscriptions and to just generally to stay on top of your spending. See a subscription you want to get rid of and cancel it directly through Truebill with the click of a button.
We could all stand to spend less and put more towards our student debt, but sticking to a budget can be tough. Use Truebill to make it easier. Which brings us to our next key point…
5. Stop Paying The Minimum ASAP
The minimum payment on your loans is just that, the minimum you have to do. Any additional amount you can pay every month is going to make a big difference in the long term. And if you can afford to make a lump sum payment (because of a bonus, raise, or commission), do it.
Interest is always accruing on your loans, so making extra payments reduces the overall cost and life of your loans.
We know, finding the money in your budget to be able to do this is easier said than done. That’s why Digit comes in so handy.
This app will automatically help you save for and make additional monthly payments directly to the student loan provider you owe money to.
Here’s how it works:
- Just download the app and securely connect your checking account
- Digit will then analyze your spending patterns
- It will find and transfer a small amount of money you can afford to save every day to your Digit account
- It will then use that money to pay down your student loans
Most people don’t realize how much of a difference paying more than the minimum can make on student loans.
Get help from Digit with this today. Don’t wait another minute, it could cost you.
6. Lower your Monthly Bills By 30%
We can’t hammer home this point enough: Pay more than the minimum each month on your student loans.
One important place to get some extra cash is from the bills you are already paying every month. While some are set in stone, like your rent, there are plenty that are actually negotiable (though your service providers would like you to think otherwise). A few bills you could probably bring down? Your phone, internet and cable, insurance premiums, medical bills, and more.
Luckily, Trim can do the haggling for you. Trim works as a personal bill negotiator on behalf of all of its users.
When you upload, send a copy of a bill or log into the service provider account through Trim, the app will immediately get to work finding you better plans and promotions that will temporarily or permanently reduce the cost of the bill. The app will continuously work to negotiate savings for your linked bills for as long as you have it.
Trim has a track record for lowering people’s bills by 30%. Across multiple bills, that’s a lot of money you could take and put towards paying down your student loans.
You may have been suckered into a price when you first signed up for a service, but it doesn’t have to be the final cost. Let Trim find you something better.
7. A Side Hustle Can Help Speed Up Getting Out Of Debt
You may be resistant to the idea of getting a second job, but now that you’ve done the math, how long will it take you to pay off your student loans on a single income? Is it longer than you’d like it to be? No one is saying go and add another 40 hours onto your already full week, but working in a couple of extra hours of work a week with a side hustle can make all the difference in how long your debt pay off journey lasts.
We know you’d rather spend your off-hours relaxing, so we propose this — Postmates. It’s an on-demand food delivery service that contracts people to work as couriers in their delivery fleet.
There’s no time commitment, so you can work as often or as little as you want, you get to keep 100% of what you earn per delivery (plus tips) and you can chill while doing it to some music, your favorite podcast or catch up on the news as you make your deliveries. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry about it. As long as you have either a bike, scooter, motorcycle or just two good legs you can still be a Postmate.
You can’t find this kind of job flexibility just anywhere and it’s fast and easy money. Speed up your student loan debt pay off journey with the extra money you can make delivering for Postmates.
8. Consider Jobs That Offer Loan Forgiveness
Beyond adding in a side hustle, give your current job a second look. Certain jobs like public service work, healthcare or teaching might offer partial or full student loan forgiveness. If you qualify for and get the job, all you have to do next is complete the full-time work requirement.
Bonus. Whatever You Do, Don’t Get Into Any More Debt
You’ve made the decision to get out of debt and you’re taking steps to do that and we commend you. But it’s just as important to make a plan to keep yourself from piling on any more debt along the way. As we all know, getting into debt is a lot easier than getting out of it. Make a charge to your credit card here, spend more than you have in your account there, and before you know it, you have thousands more that you’ve added to your overall debt balance.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind to avoid taking on any more debt:
- Create a budget and stick to it. Having your financial limitations laid out for you can help keep your spending in check.
- Limit your credit card charges to small things you can easily pay off and pay your balance off in full every month.
- Before you make a purchase, ask yourself this question: Is it something I need or something I want? Listen when that voice in your head tells you its the latter and don’t buy it.
Feature Image: Twenty20