You may have read in my previous article – or in countless other news sources – that student loan debt is a major problem. It haunts people by forcing us to wait to purchase a home, start a business, get married or pursue other major life events. At the time, pursing that degree seemed to be a good idea, but for some reason our careers post-degree may not necessarily be measuring up.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, education costs should be between 8-10% of our income. So how can we stop drowning in payments?
Here are some tips for tackling student loan debt:
Step One: Lay Out a Plan
Find your actual cost of living by reviewing how much you spend per period, perhaps monthly or quarterly. Go through your itemized periodic expenses and identify areas where you can realistically save. Add the excess savings to your student loan monthly payment amount.
Next, find out how much you owe in student loans and what the terms are for your payments. Create an ideal plan for paying off each loan, categorized either by interest rate, loan amount, origination date, or some combination thereof.
Step Two: Find Ways to Make Extra Payments
Look at your weekly schedule. Determine what time is dedicated to work, school, volunteering or other responsibilities, and see where you have extra time. When you know how much time you can allocate to other activities, take the extra time and decide what you are willing to do. Do you have enough time to create a side business, invest, side job or freelance?
Next, identify creative solutions that can help you maximize your time and consolidate some of your goals. For example, if community involvement is important to you, but you need to pay your student loans, STARTNOO might be a good option for you. With STARTNOO, students and alumni can exchange services for payments towards their student loans. It’s free – just help non-profit organizations and payments go directly to your student loan accounts. The best part is that some of the listings may relate to your profession.
So, for example, I could do accounting for a non-profit, and doing this in my spare time pays off my student loans. The platform goes live in Fall 2015, but they are accepting 45 test group applicants who will get $500 paid towards their student loans!
*After June 30, 2015, STARTNOO will be asking interested users to sign up for their mailing list so they can be notified of the expected launch date in the fall. During beta testing, the STARTNOO team will be completely focused on the test group and making sure that they’ve adjusted to the feedback before opening to the public. Once needed revisions have been made, they’ll share the launch date with their lists/social media outlets.
Step Three: Act on It
Organization and planning are wonderful – but implementation with action will bring the results you want. Take your goals and make yourself accountable by 1) making your goals public, 2) tracking your activities, or 3) working with an expert who can make your dreams a reality.
As a Money Coach, I have seen first hand that accountability is one of the biggest indicators of action. Reward yourself as you reach various milestones in the journey – and finally, enjoy the ride. The day that all of your student loans are paid off will be a glorious accomplishment and I cannot wait to congratulate you when that day comes!
What do you think about taking these first steps towards eliminating your student loan debt? Please let me know by commenting in the section below!