Earning a college degree offers many perks and experiences, and it opens the door to more job opportunities and better pay. But for 44.2 million people, it also brings the burden of a massive pile of student loans.
While the federal government and private loan services are quick to hand over school loans, there are many things they leave out–like how to get rid of those loans–fast!
When I realized I could end up repaying double what I borrowed for college if I wasn't careful about how I repaid them, I took my student loans by the horns and paid off over $42,000 in less than 3 years–on a teacher's salary.
And to help you avoid some unnecessary bumps, bruises, and hits to your wallet, there are 5 key things you should do with your student loans so you can handle them with confidence.
So what should you do with your student loans after graduation?
1. Gain Control of Your Spending
The first thing they should have taught us all in college (or earlier) is how to create a spending plan. Knowing how much money you earn each month and how much money you spend is a crucial money skill to have as an adult.
Some refer to this as “budgeting.” It's basically knowing where all your money goes by setting money goals, then tracking where you spend money to stay within those parameters. You'll want to know when you get paid and when all your bills are due, as well as how much money you expect to spend in each category (like food, rent, gasoline, etc.)
Many people avoid budgeting because they feel restricted by it but as Dave Ramsey says, “if you don't tell your money where to go…you'll wonder where it all went!”
When I started budgeting after college, I found it brought freedom and taught me how to live frugally. Basically, I continued living like a college student a few years beyond my days of attending class so I could confidently spend yet still achieve my financial goals. This paid off big time.
A few tips for creating your spending plan and sticking to it are:
- create a goal spending plan before a new month begins
- use a cash budget
- try budget-friendly real food hacks and recipes like these eggie rice cups
2. Set up Automatic Loan Payments
Once you've figured out when your bills are due in your monthly budget, set up autopay for your student loans right away.
You may receive a slight interest rate reduction for having automatic payments scheduled and you'll never miss a payment (and get smacked with a late fee).
Once you decide you want to pay extra on a student loan to pay it off faster, you can set up to automatically pay extra on your first target loan. But which loan should you pay off first?
3. Note Your Loan Details and Interest Rates
One of the first things I learned about taking out loans is how much the interest rates matter. While there are different schools of thought about which loan to pay off first, I use the numbers because the numbers don't lie.
When you are able to pay extra on your school loans to save massive amounts of interest (like how I saved nearly $30,000 on interest), you might wonder which one you should pay off first.
Basically, you'll always want to figure out which loan will cost you the most money in the long run and make sure to pay that one off first.
Here are 3 general guidelines to follow:
- pay private before federal loans
- pay unsubsidized before subsidized loans
- pay the highest interest rate loan before a lower interest rate loan
This will save you the most money in the long run because you can pay far less in interest fees.
4. Start a Side Gig
The opportunities to earn more money are endless. Whether you want to start a side gig like delivery pizzas or mowing laws in your neighborhood or do work online from anywhere, there are always ways to make more money.
I've been fascinated by finding ways to work from home ever since it was my goal to stay home with my kids and make money too. I've learned many others want the same thing, so I compiled this epic list of the best jobs for pregnant women, which include flexible jobs that anyone can do to earn money on your own schedule (no belly bump required).
Whether you're fresh from college and still looking to find a full-time job or you want to earn extra money on the side, start a side job and start raking in the dough so you can wipe our your school loans even faster.
5. Consider Refinancing
Depending on your interest rate, you might be able to save massive amounts of money by refinancing. In fact, not refinancing my student loans was my biggest student loan mistake. Currently, there are banks offering interest rates as low as 2-3%.
You'll want to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions before refinancing, but it's definitely worth looking into because a 2 percent lower interest rate could easily save student loan borrowers $10,000 in interest charges.
Some legit online banks where you can learn more about refinancing options include:
To learn more about if refinancing your student loans is a good fit for you, ask yourself these 10 crucial questions first.
About The Author
Val Breit is the professional student loan slayer at TheCommonCentsClub.com. She paid off over $42,000 of college debt in just 34 months. Now she's determined to show college grads how to destroy their student loans–so their student loans don't destroy them. Grab your Ultimate Debt Toolkit to start eliminating your college debt today for free!