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There is a comfort in certainty, and unfortunately we don’t live in a very certain world.

Too many people I know left college and wound up not having jobs in their respective fields. Most of them went to college so they could set out on a career path, and now they’re stuck paying for it with low-income jobs and brutal student loan interest rates.

If this is you, first and foremost, I’m sorry. But let’s address the elephant in the room: you have to be careful with your money, and you have to minimize the damage.

Credit rules more of this world than you might think.

Start considering how your spending habits may hurt your credit and affect the amount of debt you have stacked up. Keep looking for a job, keep trying to find your next step. But start minimizing the damage as well. Here’s five tips for not going broke in this time.

1. Count Your Debt

Take into account your income, Then, make a list of all the debts you have, as well as all your monthly bills.

You have important debt that you are working on paying off, but, and you’ll still have additional bills every month.

So make a list:

  • What is your debt outstanding?
  • What are your bills?
  • How much money have typically after paying everything?

Once you make this list, you need to separate your needs from your wants.

2. Separate Your Needs From Your Wants

I have some bills that I don’t need. I don’t need Netflix. I don’t need Spotify Premium.

At times I’ve lived close enough to walk to work and not have to spend money on gas.

But I need food – maybe not fast food though. Recurring wants and subscriptions might be on your bill list now, but perhaps they shouldn’t be.

If you’re really going to pay your debt off as soon as possible – especially now when you’re not being paid a ton – then eliminate what you don’t need. If you need help distinguishing between wants and needs, people have written up guides that may help. Then, readjust your goals with your extra money.

3. Make Goals

Okay! Now that the unnecessary expenses are out of the way, we can move on to making your goals.

Before you make your goals, make sure that all of your bills have been subtracted from your monthly income!

Then ask yourself: when do you want your debt paid off? Ask this for individual debts – you want your car paid off in X amount of years, and your student loans paid off in Y amount. Make sure everything you want is realistic and possible after the proper financial adjustments .

4. Make a Plan

Making a plan revolves around two questions:

  1. When are you going to pay your debts each month?
  2. How much from your income are you going to give to it?

This will involve more budgeting.

Make sure that when answering these you give yourself some room to save and pay for groceries.

I should say, with student debt specifically, I wouldn’t blame you for setting up a repayment plan. I’m not saying to do this for all of your debts, though you certainly can. It’s just that student debt specifically is most likely the biggest financial burden you have right now, and some structure for it specifically might help you to not get off track in paying it.

Overall though, make your ultimate plan meet your goals at your desired time.

If this isn’t working out, adjust it to meet your goals or your goals to meet reality.

5. Act

Just do it. This will take discipline, but with your new plan, you have a solid path laid out before you.

All you have to do is follow it. When putting your plan into action, make sure that you have some kind of accountability, because if you get off track, it can be very hard to get back on.

It’s like quitting a bad habit – making yourself give up some fun for some responsibility can be difficult. But I assure you it’s worth it. And when you’re done, you have the rest of your life to have fun and enjoy things.

What’s your experience paying off your debt? Let me know via Twitter @robolitious.

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