Believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt. – Michelle Obama
We are told that in order to be successful we must get a good education. The better the education, the more money it costs. We are told we must go to college and get a four year degree. For some careers, we then need to acquire a Masters degree to give us a higher pay rate. In our college career and even in youth, many of us aren’t educated about finance. We don’t understand financial responsibility or what it takes to be debt free. In fact, the majority of Americans are drowning in so much debt, it is difficult to purchase a home or have enough money to start a family. So after commencement, what are the steps to successfully pay off debt quickly, that we may not be indebted for many years to come?
Finding A Job – Not everyone has the best of luck finding a job that pays a lot of money when we are fresh out of college. We are considered “Entry Level”, and many of us are interning just to gain the experience we need to get our foot in the door. Try interning during your college career this way you can gain the experience you need and potentially land a job that enables you to make a decent pay rate.
Pay Your Loans Immediately – For all of us who already have student debt, we know that most student loan companies give us all a 6 month grace period. My best advice, DO NOT WAIT! Start paying immediately. Paying before your interest rates kick in will help you pay less interest and more of the actual loan.
Pay More Than The Minimum Amount – Once you make payments, you will have the opportunity to look at how much is actually going towards your loans and how much you are paying in interests. You want to be ahead of the game by overpaying on the loans with the highest interest rates first. This may lower interest rates in the future. If you have the means, over pay. Even if you have to pay more than once a month.
Cut Costs Where You Can – Use most of your earnings towards your debt. I know this part sucks but instead of buying drinks, getting credit cards to accumulate more debt, living in expensive places (New York, LA, DC, or other expensive cities), spending money on vacations, designer clothes, cars, and/or even dining out, think about the determination to get out of debt for many years to come. You will eventually want to buy a car, travel, or settle down and buy a house of your own. This takes discipline as consumerism is constantly manifesting its culture through advertisements and the media. Instead, just think of the rewards of being able to save and pocket your hard earned money. Remember the goal is to keep your debt down so you can truly be free.
Research What It Takes To Lower Interest Rates – Some of us have Private Loans which should be avoided but sometimes may be inevitable. Talk to your student loan company to find out different ways to lower interest rates and pay down your student loans. Be sure to have all mail forwarded to your current address and read all documentation given to you. Things can constantly change unbeknownst to you as it states in contracts. The goal for these companies are to get paid through interest, so have your own back and educate yourself. Even if you choose to look into consolidating your federal loans.
Set Goals For Yourself – Setting goals for yourself with a strict budget will give you the willpower to encourage yourself to stick to your goals. Whether you learn Quickbooks or Excel, creating a spreadsheet is your best bet to keep track of your student loans, bills, and earnings.
Reward Yourself When It’s All Over – Enjoy yourself, the hard work of getting out of unnecessary debt is over! If you don’t have any debt, and have $10.00 in your pocket, you are officially wealthier than 25% of America. Well, at least according to Uber Facts.
Remember when life gives you lemons …