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This is an awesome post by Allen Kors, Founder and CEO of Achieve Lending. You can learn more about him at the end of the post. Write for us.
You’ve graduated college, now your student loan forbearance or “grace period” will end soon and you don’t know how to formulate a payoff strategy.
For those who don’t know where to start, below are 4 tried-and-true strategies to help jump-start your loan payoff…
1. Find Money in Your Budget
It can be hard to adjust a budget to include a loan payment, especially if you’re not used to making one. Before you trim a budget, you need to build one that works for your lifestyle. A good rule of thumb for beginner budgeters is to separate your budget by the 50-30-20 rule: 50% of your monthly take home income toward living expenses, 30% to debt repayment and savings, and 20% to discretionary funds or “spending money.”
Once you have the basics down, try and find money within your budget to make extra loan payments. Cable, subscription services, eating out, and your daily coffee habits are all great sacrifices to make in the short term to fuel long term goals. Try making a game out of it and see how much extra money you can contribute to your loans each month.
2. Pick Up a Side Hustle
What if you are on a tight budget already and can’t allocate any extra money to your loans? Consider picking up a side job, weekend gig, or working remotely on a contract basis to bring in extra income. Your 9-5 job doesn’t have to be your only source of income, and earning more often allows those who “side hustle” to pay back debt at an aggressive rate.
If you need some ideas to earn some extra cash, check out 15 Effective Tips for You to Make Extra Money.
3. Get Strategic with a Debt Snowball
In the debt snowball, you list all of your loan amounts, putting the smallest balances at the top. The idea is to put all of your extra money towards paying off the smallest balances, and then when that one is paid off, on to the next loan, and so on and so forth. This is a great strategy to get those “small wins” in the beginning and work towards the rest of your debt aggressively.
Others prefer paying off the highest interest loans first. This method is known as the Debt Avalanche. It doesn’t matter which way you go about it, as long as you have a plan that works for you!
4. Research Consolidation
If you have more than one loan, whether federal, private, or both, you can consider consolidating your loans into one interest rate and monthly payment. There are many advantages to this including saving money on interest, or adjusting to a lower monthly payment. However, be cautious as some borrowers end up consolidating at slightly higher total interest rate and end up paying more over the life of the loan because they receive a lower monthly payment, which looks good to them in the moment. Be sure to do your homework.
Don’t stick your head in the sand when it comes to your student loan burden. While it may seem like an insurmountable amount of debt, many students before you have managed to pay off the debt and live financially stable and fulfilling lives. The important lesson here is to have a plan of attack, stick to it, and work hard to accomplish the payoff goals you set for yourself.
About the Author:
Allen Kors is the Founder and CEO of Achieve Lending, the first ever search engine for education loans. Designed to help both traditional and non-traditional students find the best student loans, Achieve Lending offers users a free online portal to search, find, and compare student loans, often in as little as 30 seconds.