Every year millions of students graduate along with the burden of a significant amount of debt. After graduation, you tend to grab every opportunity to have a lengthy thoughtful conversation about your debt with anyone who has a vague idea about it. And these conversations always have similar endings like, ‘I wish I would have known how my debt would affect my whole life before I went to college.
’ Do you think you are going in the same direction? Don’t get disheartened. You still have a chance to deal with your problems by reading these five easy steps to repay your student loan faster.
1. Understand your student loans
Do you fall into the group of people who do not understand their student loans? There are many things you should know so that you can create the best student loan repayment plan. The basic knowledge includes,
Student loans have either fixed interest rates or variable rates. Figure out what type of interest rate you are paying because that may affect the student loan repayment plan you decide upon.
Pro Tip: Choose to pay off your students loans that have the highest rates. This way, you will only need to pay less money over time.
Student loan reimbursements
Some employers will give you money to pay towards your students loans. These employers will, however, want you to work for them for a certain amount of time. There many employers who pay back the students loans (fully or partially).
Pro Tip: When you look into this option, first research then make any decision. Without researching, you may land up on a wrong option.
- Auto Payments – In this method, you need to set up the amount of monthly payment (or decided by the bank) that is automatically deducted from your saving account on a specific date. By doing so, you can receive an interest rate reduction of .25%, reducing the total amount you pay over time.
- One-time payment online – You can make your payments each month yourself using the ‘pay online’ mode.
Pro Tip: Always go for either of these online payment modes. It saves your time because you don’t have to write a check each time you pay.
2. Create a budget
If you don’t have one, then you must create one immediately. Let’s see how to do it.
The key to creating a good budget plan is being honest with yourself about your incomes and spending.
Pro Tip: You can use online tools to track your spending for a month or two before making the budget. This will help you make accurate decisions.
Make a list of incomes and spending
Use the online worksheet to record the monthly income. Include what you are earning from your jobs, your allowance, financial aid and scholarships.
Pro Tip: Fill up your spending log by categorizing your expenses in sections like housing, food, entertainment, books, etc.
After adding your incomes and expenses, determine how you can spend on your necessities like visiting home, housing, food, class materials etc. In case you have money left over, consider using it to boost your savings.
Pro Tip: If it looks like you will run out of money before the semester is up, then look for areas where you can cut back. For instance, instead of spending money on dinner outside, make a meal on your own.
As expenses change, for instance, your landlord raises the rent or fortunately you receive a grant from your college, revise your budget and adjust it accordingly.
Pro Tip: Save for unexpected medical event. If you have fund saved for emergencies, you won’t have to rely on credits cards.
3. Cut down on your expenses
You may have not realized — until you wrote down your actual expenses in the budget — that how much money you were spending on nonsensical items. However, now is better than never!
- There are many campus book rental sites you can opt for; from where you can buy textbooks for cheap and can save lots of money.
- Go for cheaper cell phone schemes or opt for cheaper cell phone service.
- Pay bills on time, obviously this way you can avoid late fees.
- Save money on food, sign up for campus meal plan or go during happy hours when you typically don’t have to pay the normal price. Eliminate your daily treats like coffee, smoothies and other treats.
Pro Tip: Look for coupons codes; newspapers can be a good source for that. In this way, you can cut down on your expenses.
4. Earn more money
When you are busy with loads of academic and social obligations, it can be difficult to find a way to earn more money. But you need to fill in the gaps. Here are few ways to make money while balancing your academic and professional life,
Choose according to your ability and interest. You can search on websites like Snagajob, Craigslist, Monster and so on.
Pro Tip: Here are five practical ways that you can use to make money in college:
- Babysit – Flexible hours and decent pay
- Be a photographer – Check out sites like Gigwalk where you can sell photos clicked from your smartphones.
- Freelance – Copywriter, graphic designer, etc
- Become an intern – Search for companies that need internships
- Pet sitter or Dog walker – You get flexible working hours if you are a busy student.
Making money by blogging would not have been a believable story few years ago, but now it is trending. If you have an interesting story to tell and are passionate about a certain topic, you should try it. But remember it is a painfully slow process; you must be willing to do hard work and wait long enough to attract enough traffic to monetize your blog.
Pro Tip: If you want to attract traffic from visual social media like Instagram, Pinterest or Vine, you should hone your photography and image editing as well as social media skills.
If you have extra things lying around you, sell it. Or you can also search for items on e-Bay that can be bought and resold for profits.
Pro Tip: Buy pre-owned stuff in good conditions from online sites. Use them as your necessities or sell them to classmates.
Answering question to make money is the easiest way for college students. You get paid to answer surveys and test products. Many surveys companies include American Consumer Opinion, ProOpinion, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost and Survey Spot are free to join and free to use.
Pro Tip: It is best to sign up for as many as you can so that you get to answer most of the surveys and make maximum money.
5. Make investments
There is no guarantee regarding investments. But you need to start it sooner or later. Here are few ways to do investments.
Open a brokerage account for investments
Anyone can make money in stocks, but students should be prepared for loss.
Pro Tip: It is best not to micromanage investments and sell when the market is falling. Hold onto expensive stocks for long term to get more money.
Try long-term, low cost, low involvement index funds and mutual funds
A low index fund or mutual fund is a safe option for college students because it has fewer risks.
Pro Tip: Follow the market as a whole (knowing the fact it is unpredictable), but also review your portfolio annually.
Investing bonds can draw small returns over time. However, it is less risky than stocks and index funds.
Pro Tip: Consider buying zero-coupon bonds that do not require paying tax or an interest rate.
Open a money market account or certificate deposit
A high-yield money market account or certificate deposit acquires higher interest than normal saving account. It is highly safe and assured way to earn extra money.
Pro Tip: Try not to take out money before the term ends because you will receive it on the current market rate that is less than what it initially opened at.
Start your Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account)
It is never too early to start a retirement account. It is a safe way for college students to hold their money for long-term savings.
Pro Tip: If you have IRA from past summer job or other employment, transfer it to a Roth IRA so that it can accumulate interest without tax liability.
Remember, if you decide to stick to the existing repayment plan, you will be stuck in the wheel of student loan payment for long. So pay more than the minimum to speed up your student loan repayment plan process.
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