Graduation is upon us and for many seniors, it means entering the real world. This usually entails getting a job, finding a place to live and paying off those pesky student loans. While I know that student loans aren’t high on your importance list at the moment, they should be. Take it from someone who has been in your shoes before. I’ll tell you a little bit about my story below and offer some tips to rid yourself of student loans.
My Student Loan Debt
When I graduated college, I had around $10,000 in student loan debt. While it is less than what many graduates now face, it still had an impact on me. I was paying around $200 a month on my loans at first. Then I refinanced and put them on deferment. When I finally got around to paying them off, they were starting to limit my options.
First, I was having a tough time finding a job I really enjoyed that could pay me enough to cover the bills and let me pay off my debt. This was harder than it sounds.
Second was the issue with my living situation. I wanted to buy a house, but my student loans were impacting the size of the loan I could take out.
Because of these two things, I decided to pay off my loans as quickly as possible. Once I committed to paying them off and became debt free, my options opened up. It is for this reason why I recommend making your student loans a priority.
3 Tips To Rid Yourself of Student Loans
#1. Pay Extra
I don’t care if it is $5 or $100 extra. The idea is to pay a little bit more than the minimum each month consistently. When you do this, you shorten the amount of time you will be in debt. While an extra $5 or $10 each month doesn’t sound like much, it adds up over time.
The idea here is to pay less overall. When you pay extra, you end up paying less in interest. I get that you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest on your tax return, but understand what this means.
It doesn’t mean you can write off $2,500 in interest if that is what you paid. It works by taking the total amount of interest you did pay and multiplying that by your tax rate. So if you paid $1,000 in interest and are in the 15% tax bracket, you get to write off a whopping $150. Not so great of a deal after all.
#2. Look For Others To Pay Down Your Debt
There are a lot of ways you can get the help of others to pay your student loans down for you. If you are a teacher and teach in a low income area, the government could discharge some of your debt. Same goes if you are public servant.
You could join the PeaceCorps or AmeriCorps too. In both these cases, after you serve for a set period of time, you can have a portion of your student loan debt discharged.
You could even look to credit cards to help out. There are some that will earn you cash back on your purchases and apply that amount to your student loans. Before you go this route, read through the terms and conditions to make sure it is worth it. If you find it isn’t but do have a cash back credit card, you can still use your rewards to pay off your student loan debt. The only catch is you have to manually make a transfer from your checking account to your student loans as the automatic link won’t be an option.
#3. Get Your Employer To Help
When you are negotiating for a job, see if you can get the employer to pay off some of your student loans. In the past this would have been a hard sell, but more and more companies are open to this type of perk to get the best talent.
Don’t go in shooting for the stars, meaning don’t ask them to pay off all $30,000 of your student loan debt after 6 months of working there. Instead see if they will pay off $5,000 after a set period of time working for them. They will probably want to tie the payment into your performance, which is understandable.
While your employer won’t completely pay off your debt, getting a nice chunk knocked off after a year or two could be great motivation to keep you pushing ahead.
In the end, if you combine these 3 tips, you can rid yourself of student loans much faster than you originally thought. While you might not think doing this is that important now, your future self will thank you for paying off your student loans as fast as you can be.
Not only will doing so free up some extra money in your monthly budget, it will also allow you more choices and not be tied down to your debt.