Close to 50 million Americans have some form of student loan debt, totaling close to $1.5 trillion at the end of 2018. For the first time in history, this debt is higher than credit card debt or auto loans. All of this is to say that if you have student debt, you’re far from alone – but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
It can be easy to delay paying down debt. It might feel like you have so much to do that you’re unsure of where to go first. Confidence is key to any financial decision, and paying off debt is a huge, identity-shifting experience. That said, there are a few ways you can start the process, which will then turn into good habits. Eventually, you’ll achieve financial freedom.
Start a Change Jar
It sounds dumb, I know, but it’s a start. Set a jar out on your dresser and collect all your loose coins at the end of the day. That’ll eventually accumulate into something bigger, which you can then deposit at the bank. This is a great idea if you’re still in the grace period between graduation and debt repayment. Maintain this jar for those 6 months and use what you’ve collected to make your first loan payment. It’ll make the process seem easier and the payments themselves more attainable.
Interest is one of the biggest challenges to paying off student debt, but the less you pay in interest, the more you can put toward the balance itself. Consider consolidating your debt to achieve a lower rate. This will also make it easier to balance multiple payments, as you’ll have only one bill to deal with each month.
Re-Work Your Budget
It might not be fun, but you should prioritize your student loans every month (after household expenses, of course). Spend some time calculating your budget. If you can stand to cut a few dollars from going out expenses, or maybe food, put that money toward loans instead. There is always a cheaper way to shop.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
There’s no sense in having a membership or subscription if you don’t use it, especially if you could use that money to pay off debt. Go through your bank statements to see how many subscriptions you have, then total them up. If you only use Netflix to watch a movie once every month, it might be time to cancel.