Pay Off Your Student Debt with these 3 Easy Strategies
If you’re like me, you have student debt. Depending on your situation, your loans can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a soul-crushing burden. Since you are reading this, I am betting it is closer to the latter. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious when trying to figure out how you will pay it off. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t much help out there, especially when you read a blog that says something along the lines of “If you have $10,000 in debt and are making $60,000/year…” Not to worry, though. I am going to give you 3 easy strategies for paying off your loans and freeing yourself from their oppression once and for all.
Before we begin, though, I want to emphasize something: repaying your student loans, especially if you have a lot of debt, will require self-discipline and some sacrifice. (I am writing this assuming you would like to maintain a bit of a social life and not be a complete hermit.)
Debt Strategy #1: Add 10% to the Monthly Payment
This is a really easy strategy that won’t break the bank. To employ this method, simply take your monthly student loan payment and pay an additional 10% every month. This can help you pay off your student loans anywhere from 2-5 years faster than regular payments alone. In the long run, this will save you hundred of dollars in interest payments.
Let’s look at the math (I used the Student Loan Repayment Calculator at Bankrate.com):
Loan Amount: $50,000
Loan Term: 10 years
Interest Rate (Federal Plus Loan): 6.31
Monthly Payment: $562.67
So if you started this year, it’d be paid off in 10 years.
Now let’s add 10% ($56.27) to the $562.67 -> $618.94
You would have your loan paid off by December 31, 2025. 2 Years and 2 months faster!
Yikes! That looks like a huge payment! Remember, you only need to find $56.27 in your budget.
(Don’t have a budget? Click Here)
Here are some ideas that can help you save that $56.27(or whatever your %10 may be):
- Invite friends over rather than going to a bar/club
- Picnics in the park or a homemade dinner rather than having a date at a mid-range restaurant
- Go to matinees rather than going to see movies in the evening
- Make coffee at home rather than going to Starbucks
- Need more ideas? Look at your credit card/bank statement.
Debt Strategy #2: Snowball Method
The Snowball Method was created by Personal Finance Guru David Ramsay. The concept goes like this. Paying off a small loan will keep you motivated and will keep you paying off other loans so start small.
Let’s say you have 5 student loans of varying amounts (I am going to use a high 12% APR for these examples. If you have an interest rate this high, try to refinance ASAP.) For example:
$2000 -> $28.69/month
$2300 -> $33.00
$3500 -> $50.21
$3600 -> $51.65
$4000 -> $57.39
Ok, let’s say you can free up that $56.27 from above. Rather than splitting that five ways and paying it evenly across all the loans, you are going to go all in on the $2000 loan. You will keep making the minimum payments on the other loans but you will be paying 84.96. The loan will be paid off in 2 years. Now, you will take that $84.96 payment and apply it to the $33.00 monthly payment for the $2300 loan.
33.00+84.96 = $117.96
This loan will be paid off in 22 months. Continue this process of rolling over your payments into the next largest loan and your debt will be paid off before you know it. The advantage of this method is that it keeps your total allocation to paying off debt the same. In this example, we started with the required payments of $220.94 and added $56.27 for a total of $277.21. The amount of money we dedicated to paying down debt never changed from that amount which makes it very easy to budget.
You can learn more about Dave Ramsay’s Snowball Method, as well as his other financial advice, from his book The Total Money Makeover. (Note: This is an affiliate link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and I only recommend things that I have personally used and trust.)
Debt Strategy #3: Debt Stacking
The Debt Stacking Strategy (aka Debt Avalanche Strategy) is similar to the Debt Snowball but rather than paying off your debts from smallest to largest, you pay off your debts from higher interest rate to lowest interest rate. The advantage of this method is that it saves you the most money in the long run. You still make all your minimum payments but now you throw the extra $56.27 at the loan with the highest interest rate. Let’s take a look using the 5 same loans from above.
$2000 -> 8 percent -> 27.91
$2300 -> 6.4 percent -> $26.00
$3500 -> 12 percent -> $50.21
$3600 -> 3.5 percent -> $35.60
$4000 -> 7.3 percent -> $47.06
The first loan you are going to target is the $3500 loan since it has the highest interest rate. Add your extra $56.27 (total: $106.21/month) and you will have that loan paid off in 3.5 years. Then you can roll that over into the loan with the next highest interest rate. This method will take you longer than the Snowball Method BUT it will save you more money.
So there you go! 3 easy strategies to pay off your student loans once and for all. It’ll take discipline and patience but it’ll be worth it in the end! Just keep imagining how good it’ll feel to tell Sallie Mae to fuck off then you send in that last payment.
Did these work for you? What strategies do you use to manage your debt, instead? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter!