There are a few personal finance milestones out there worth celebrating. These milestones include paying off credit card debt, paying off student loans, getting a job, becoming debt free, etc. All of these take work and aren’t achieved easily or quickly, which means they are worth celebrating.
I paid off ALL my student loans!
I’ve finally hit one of those goals I spent so long working towards – I’ve paid off my student loans!! To say that I’m elated over this milestone is an understatement.
I’ve told almost everyone I’ve met and shared it as often as possible since achieving this goal last week. It’s hard NOT to talk about paying off my student loans because I’m just so excited about it. Paying off $22,000 in student loan debt feels great!
Paying off my loans toward the end was less about the debt or the interest rate and more about achieving this feeling. I wanted to be rid of the burden. I wanted to be done rather than stretch the loans out to the full term’s end 5 years from now.
I’m finally debt free!
That last payment of $626 represented a lot of hard work and sacrifice as well as an end and a new beginning. My student loans are gone! I don’t owe anyone anything. I paid off my credit card debt and now I paid off my student loan debt. I am completely debt free as of this moment. This is a huge step in my financial life as becoming debt free has been a motivating factor in all my financial decisions thus far.
Even though I deferred for a year, it took me half the time needed to pay off my student loans. Now I’m free. I have to admit it feels great. It feels amazing! It feels liberating! It feels like I can do anything!!
Sure it was only $22k, but it feels so great to be out from under that obligation. Paying off my student loans freed me from any obligations and has given me a feeling of lightness and freedom. I highly recommend paying off your own debt and achieving debt freedom.
How To Pay Off Your Student Loans
The following tips are ways I paid off my own student loans. They helped me send larger payments and knock out my debt quickly on a relatively low salary. You can do the same by following this tips to pay off your student loans!
Live on less.
It’s smart to live on as little as possible when you first graduate and start paying your loans with the extra money in your budget. Keeping your expenses low will allow you to make bigger payments toward your student loans and ultimately eliminate them faster. Do everything you can to save money like living with roommates, enjoying cheap weekends and driving a beater car. There are lots of things to do instead of spending money!
Track your progress.
I actually started this blog in order to track my debt payoff progress. You can track your progress with your own blog or with a software program or with old fashioned pen and paper. You can use a program like Ready for Zero to both plan and track your debt payoff progress. Seeing your payments add up over time will help you know you are making progress and motivate you to continue.
Set up automated payments.
You might not miss the money as much if you have it set up to come out of your paycheck as quickly as possible. Some companies also offer benefits for this type of payment. And thanks to the automated nature, you’ll never forget or be late on your student loan payment.
Pay more than is due.
The fastest way to eliminate your student loan debt is to pay more than what you owe each month. In the beginning you might just set up automated payments for a little bit extra each month. Work to increase this each month until you’ve doubled or tripled the payment that is due.
Pay the highest interest rate first.
I paid off my student loans with the highest interest rate first. Those loans were costing me more since they also happened to be my biggest loans. It felt like it took a long time but in the end it saved me money. I knew that if I paid them off and was only left with loans at a 2% interest rate it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Send in big chunks when you can.
Got a bonus? Received money for your birthday? Paid for a side gig? Use that extra money to make a one time payment toward your student loans. Any time I had extra money in my bank account not destined for something else I would use it for paying off my loans. It all adds up!
Make more money.
Finding ways to make extra income will help you tremendously when you are paying off your student loans. I used extra income from my blog and babysitting jobs to make extra payments toward my student loans. Whenever I could work extra on the weekends I took the chance so that I could throw the extra money toward repaying the student loans.
Paying off debt sucks. There is no way around it. It’s hard to stay motivated and continue to follow your plan when it feels like your money is disappearing with no benefit. Stay motivated by reading great books about debt or listening to podcasts or talking to friends and family about achieving your debt payoff goals.
Remember, never give up! Paying off your debt is rewarding and a great thing to do for yourself and your future.
Help With Paying Off Your Student Loans
If you’d like help creating a plan to get out of debt, I highly recommend the free service ReadyForZero. They will help you create a plan to pay off debt faster and track your progress to keep you motivated. It’s a great service and it won’t cost you a dime.
Tips For Paying & Living With Student Loans
It’s possible to live with student loans and still make progress on paying them off, but you must be aware and intentional about your plan.
Check your repayment options. Federal loans give you several different loan repayment options. You can potentially lower your monthly payment with these plans or you could get an extended repayment plan that will extend your loans another decade or two in order to take the pressure off you.
Create a debt repayment plan. Make a plan to get out of debt faster with ReadyForZero. This awesome free service will help you figure out a livable debt repayment plan that will get you out of debt faster than you would just paying minimum payments toward your student loans.
Budget to afford your student loan payment. It’s easy to create a budget that leaves your student loan payment until the end, but don’t do that! Make sure your personal budget leaves you room for your student loan payments. This might require some sacrifices and changes in the way you live to allow for frugality in order to pay your student loans. If you need help with budgeting, download the following ebooks to get a starting budget: You Need A Budget or The One Week Budget: Learn to Create Your Money Management System in 7 Days or Less!.
Start small if you need to start small. Instead of putting off your loans for years and years while you wait for the big salary that will allow you to pay off everything, make small payments from the time you start working. Pay as you earn from the very beginning of your earnings and plan to just increase it as you earn more rather than delaying your payments.
Learn from others who have succeeded with student loans. Read blogs from people who have paid off their student loans. These people are the best possible source for ways to live with and destroy student loans. Try reading the ebook Destroy Student Debt: A Combat Guide to Freedom, written by a fellow blogger who got rid of $90K in student loan debt from Harvard.
Get cash back for paying your student loans. This tip is a bit controversial because not everyone agrees with the method, but you can pay your student loans with credit cards to get cash back from your rewards credit card. This can give you a bit of a bump if you are using your credit card rewards regularly and are using them to save up for something.
Avoid taking on more debt. If you are already living with student loans then try to avoid taking on more debt, especially if you have a lower income on a starting salary. Rather than rushing to buy everything new you should evaluate our needs and choose to save up to pay for what you need rather than getting a loan. Adding a huge car loan or a mortgage immediately can make living with student loans harder.
Manage all your money well. In order to successfully live with student loans you should manage your money well. Managing all your money helps you successfully manage your student loan repayments as well since it will be just a smaller part of your overall financial health. If you need more help try using the free money management tools available online.
Between all of these tips and your own desire to live with student loans and eventually eliminate them, you’ll be successful in your endeavors. Good luck living with student loans!
Good luck with your own debt repayment!