Originally posted onto WalletPath.com 5/30/16.
After you graduate college, the idea of making tons of money from a potentially amazing career is what guides graduates to apply for jobs and seek employment. The days of exclusively eating Cup of Noodles and Hot Pockets is potentially at an end and the possibility of attaining lavish futures are so close you can practically feel it against the skin of your fingertips—and then you remember that you have over $50K in student loans.
It’s a painful circle. You went to school in hopes of making more money, and once you graduate you now owe a ton of money. The grip of the student loan is what keeps many graduates up late at night as they toss and turn from the anxiety, both recent and those that are opening up their 15 year reunion invitations.
Having student loans is a normal part of life for college attendees, and we are here to tell you that sleepless nights due to stress on how to pay it back are no longer necessary. Below are a few tips on how you can quickly and efficiently pay back your student loans.
How do we get into Student Loan debt?
It’s easy in college to start spending frivolously after our loans kick in. With tuition covered along with books and room and board, not to mention the college credit cards that are too easily approved, it’s easy to assume that you have an unlimited access to funds with no apparent consequences during your stay at the University of Wherever. You go to dinner using the credit card a few times a week, and then take your sweet time through college, which winds up tacking on an expensive extra semester after all this behavior of using what felt like unlimited funds, the finally bill comes and you see that all your expenses have been totaled and equal a ridiculously huge combination of both credit card debt and student loans. It hits hard when you can see it all in black and white.
Remember that any money you spend, whether it was issued to you on credit or as a loan, is not your money. The money is owned by the institutions that lent it to you, and they are not lending it you out of their good will: they did it so they can make money off of you.
Lenders are in the money granting business to make more money with their already existing money. How? Interest. They slap on an interest rate (sometimes around 5% to even 8%) with a window of return lasting sometimes up to 10 years (or whatever you deal you cut with the student loan lending institution).
Interest is quicksand.
The longer you take to pay back that loan, although you have that large 10 year window to do it in, the more that you will owe them. The more time you let the sum grow and germinate, the more difficult it will be to pay back, and all the more costly.
A loan of $26,600 is the average student loan in the US right now. Although you may have about 10 years to pay it back, you want to pay it back much sooner than that. Every year that you do not pay it back, it has potential to grow according to the interest rate attached to it. 5% of the original sum of $26,600 is $1330, so imagine what that loan would look like if you wait the entire 10 years to pay it back without making any payments to keep it in check? Ouch.
Make payback a priority.
Making the payoff of the student loan a priority is how you can knock it out before it grows into a monstrous and unrecognizably bigger number than when you started. The nature of the loan is to exponentially grow, and rather than just trying to cut the head off the dragon that will just sprout a replacement head in its place (Regenerating dragon head = Interest), you want to attack the belly of the beast before it can grow too many heads to begin with (Dragon belly = Original loan amount).
Throw everything you can at the loan. If you have money that isn’t going toward absolutely necessary expenses, cut it out and throw the money at the loan.
If you want drastic change made to your debt situation, you’re going to have to commit to some pretty drastic changes yourself, at least in terms of your budget and expenses.
The best way to knock out your student loan as soon as you can right after college is to attack it with all you got, just like we mentioned a little earlier. The best way to attack the student loan is to use as much money as you can from your paychecks from your brand new job and use as much as you possibly can on the debt in every way that you realistically can. How can you make that possible? Think about this: Even though you have a job and have graduated, you can still live like you are in college.
You heard that correctly. By keeping your expenses as low as possible, you can use all that “disposable” income you are saving from your paychecks to potentially take out your entire debt in a fraction of the time that it would take you to chip away at it from minimum payments over the years.
An almost unignorable desire from college graduates that start receiving sizable paychecks for the first time is to ignore the fact that they have debt and use the money elsewhere. While there is no problem with rewarding yourself and enjoying your hard earned first paychecks, know that you should start getting serious about your student loans as soon as you can. Keep yourself grounded on the fact that you will only have to cut back for a certain amount of time instead of a lifetime, and that your sacrifice is well worth the cutbacks.
Keep your eye on the debt free goal, and all the evenings of Cup of Noodles and Hot Pockets will be over and done with sooner than you think. Some sacrifices are worth making.
Get started as soon as possible.
Another idea that can be applicable to chipping away at your student loans is to start payments on it as soon as possible, even when you are in still in college. This can be done by getting a part time job in college.
You don’t have to necessarily wait on tables or wash dishes to make money in college anymore. Any job on the side that pays while you still attend college will do. A paid internship, gig-based work like Uber or Airbnb, or anything of the like is great for making a quick buck these days. It’s never been easier to make some quick cash with so many avenues for opportunity, especially for college students.
Taking up work as a freelancer is also a noteworthy avenue to take as well while you are in college. If you have a loaded class schedule that cannot give ample time over for a weekly 8-hour shift, then freelance work may be for you. With timing that works best for your own schedule and plenty of work available for the best suited workers, you can start gaining enough money to start paying back that student loan in no time.
Your student loan does not need to be a thing to be afraid of. Whether you are still in college and worried about the future, or a recent or older graduate, student loans are a normal occurrence, and paying them back is a necessary task that does not need to be horrible. If you make a plan and stick to it, and really stick to it, you can knock it down in a fraction of the time that it could take if you took your time in paying it back, all while saving a substantial amount of cash.
So when it comes to your student loans: pay it back as soon as you can, throw all you can at it while it is still small, and don’t put off taking care of it. By focusing in on the debt, you can dissolve it quickly and efficiently.