Paying off Student Loans
Obtaining an education, whether online or on a college campus, can saddle you with an inordinate amount of debt. Between tuition, books, room and board, and all the little extras that come along with your classes and coursework, you can quickly find yourself in over your head when it comes to accumulating costs. And not to sound overly dramatic or negative, but your schooling may realistically leave you with thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars of student loans that must eventually be repaid. It might feel like your looking at an immovable object, a debt amount that’s insurmountable, but there are ways to combat this foe.
Your living situation
One of the best ways of saving money to assist you in paying off student loans when you are done with school is not to overspend when it comes to your living situation. Buying a home or condominium, choosing an apartment that is beyond your means, and generally overindulging in furnishing a new living space can leave you with little money to cover other costs, including paying off your student loans.
To avoid falling into such a situation, consider other options such as moving into a small apartment or one with lower rent until you have built up enough of a reserve fund or paid down your loans enough to allow you comfortably to upgrade. Another option might be to take on a roommate, which could be a great way to split expenses, effectively cutting many of them (rent, utilities, food, renters insurance, etc.) in half. And while your parents might not be keen on the idea (you may not either for that matter), moving back home temporarily, at least until you have your feet under you, could be another great way to sock away some cash and pay off a good chunk of those student loans.
Payments and debt
If you have the means, making extra payments on your loans whenever possible may be a great way to reduce the time and amount of money you pay on your students loans. By doing so, you may not only reduce the amount of principle on which you are paying interest, and in effect reduce the amount you pay on your debt over time, but you can cut the number of payments and duration of those payments significantly with only an extra couple of payments per year.
Another option when it comes to utilizing your student debt to the fullest is to use any leftover loan amount to pay off other debt. This can be an effective way of saving money if your student loan interest rates are significantly lower than interest rates on your credit cards, car loan, or other debt. For example, if you have $1000 left over from your student loans and you are paying 15% interest on credit card debt, but only 4% on your student loans, it may be more beneficial to put that extra money toward the credit card debt with the higher interest rate than toward your student loan at a much lower rate.
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Not all of us are lucky enough to find the perfect job straight out of school. For some, it takes several tries at various positions to discover their niche, and for others, it could take months to find a job at all. If you’ve found yourself recently released from the confines of academics without a job offer awaiting you, but plenty of student loans ready to be repaid, you might want to consider temporarily working in a service program.
If you really want to work, but just can find any open positions that are right for you, you may want to consider a program like AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps — maybe even the military. While you probably won’t make a ton of money, you can at least put your skills to use helping others, make some cash in the process, and possibly gain some important life skills, experience, and lasting memories in the process. Working in such an organization may even assist you with eligibility for student loan help, loan deferment, and loan forgiveness programs.
The little things add up
While your student loan debt might appear massive, especially when you see your monthly payments barely making a dent in the overall total, try not to let this sway you from whittling away at it. You don’t necessarily have to take on the whole amount all at once. Even paying off little portions at a time with extra cash can make a big difference over time.
To bring in a little supplemental income, consider reselling things you just don’t use anymore. You might be surprised at how much money your old textbooks, CDs, DVDs, and similar items can bring you if you put in a little time and effort. Websites like Cash4books can offer you quite reasonable prices for your unwanted textbooks, SecondSpin may be a perfect spot for reselling old CDs, DVDs or video games, and Half Price Books might pay for similar items that you can’t find buyers for by way of the internet. You can also use sites like eBay, Craigslist, or just have a garage sale to bring in extra money for unused possessions. Then you can hopefully take that some of that extra cash and put it toward your student loans.