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How To Pay Off Student Loans…5 TIPS THAT ACTUALLY WORK!)

April 2, 2020

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YouTuber, Money Expert, Educator, Traveler, Rebel, and #1 Book Nerd. My mission is to empower you with the mindset and financial know-how to get more of what you want out of life.

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Tips and tricks to pay students a loan

I’m going to share all the tips and tricks that helped me pay off $80,000 of student loans debt in less than six years.

Now, if you have a lot of student loans to pay off, welcome to the club. The national student loan debt is over one and a half-trillion dollars and the average borrower graduates with about $30,000 in student loans. I went to an expensive private school in New York City, so I graduated with actually a lot more than that at $100,000. Most people don’t have parents who can just pay for college and cash and tuition costs have all risen exponentially faster than wages, so it is pretty normal to have to borrow money to pay for college.

That being said, student loans are a huge obstacle to financial independence and the sooner you pay it off, the sooner you’ll have more freedom in your life. So let’s not settle for less around here. Let’s get that shit paid off.

In this article, I’m going to share all the tips and tricks that helped me pay off $80,000 of student loan debt in less than six years. I’ll talk about the mindset shifts you need to make, as well as some creative ways to come up with extra cash to help you pay off your student loans even faster. So if you’re ready to wipe out your student loans once and for all, then keep reading.

Tip # 1

My first tip is to start tracking your progress and that all starts with figuring out how much debt you have today. So for me, it started with a simple piece of paper on the wall where I wrote my total student loan balance and then I updated it every time I made a payment towards paying it off. Before that, I wasn’t even sure how much total I owed. So you know, I just didn’t want to know, so I had this head in the sand approach, but when I finally faced the truth head-on and then started tracking my progress monthly, that’s when my student loan balances started to go down quickly.

Sometimes it feels like you have this mountain of debt that’s just never going to go away, but when you start seeing that number go down, it creates this incredibly motivating feeling of progress and there’s really nothing more motivating than progress. Even just making a little dent will motivate you to get out of debt even faster and then that increases your motivation even more and then creates this unstoppable snowball effect. So all you really need is a post-it note on your bathroom mirror or somewhere you can see it every day and that’s what I had.

If you want something a little fancier, I found this awesome website called the debtfreecharts.com and you can download these super cute coloring charts to track your progress and these coloring charts, because you can really see how much left you have to go, it really motivates you to want to keep coloring in that space even faster and you know how it feels like really awesome to just check things off a to-do list? So that’s because whenever you finish a task or a project and you get to cross it off, your brain releases a hit of dopamine and it makes you feel accomplished and happy. So why not hack your brain to just help you pay off your student loans faster? Again, the website is called debtfreecharts.com.

Tip #2

My next tip for you is to put $100 extra towards your student loans every month. Why a hundred dollars? Because everyone can manage $100. You can either reduce your expenses by a hundred or find a way to earn an extra 100. Only $100, so no excuses. Examples of expenses you can cut out are, for example, you can pack lunch two times a week. That’ll save $12.50 for a total savings of 100 a month. You can cancel your gym membership, which is, $100 usually, and you can work out in your living room instead. There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube and a lot of you probably have a free gym in your building that you can use otherwise. Some other ideas, you can start doing manicures and pedicures at home instead of getting your nails done at a salon that saves $100 a month or challenge yourself to take only public transportation for a month and save on Uber’s. There are so many ways to come up with an extra $100 to throw towards your debt every month. It’s all about being committed and if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Now if your budget is already super lean and there’s absolutely nothing to cut out, then you can also start a side hustle to earn an extra $100. Again, it’s just 100, so it’s doable for everyone, so don’t say that you don’t have any skills that you can turn into a side hustle cause that is BS. So when I started getting serious about paying off my student loans, I started in Airbnb side hustle out of my apartment and that made about $500 a month. Thanks to the internet, it’s amazing how many other ways there are to make extra money. So if you don’t want to do an Airbnb, you could go, for example, go to Fiverr, which is an online marketplace for freelancers and it’s really crazy what kind of tasks you can find on there.

For example, I’ve used Fiverr to hire freelancers to do things like really random things like remove background noise from my audio or to outsource things like admin and just graphic design for my thumbnails. Literally anything you can think of, you can probably sell that skill on Fiverr. So you know, I’ve seen jobs where you get paid to like and comment on Instagram posts and you know most of us do that anyway so why not get paid for it.

Some other ideas, you probably have some old stuff in your house that you could get rid of. So for clothes and shoes that are in good condition, you can try selling it on Poshmark, which is an app where you can sell used fashion items and get pretty good prices for it. So I’ve sold a couple of things that I don’t use anymore on Poshmark and I think it’s just a really great app to repurpose your things.

I actually have a friend who makes a living doing this. She finds brand name clothing at places like Goodwill and thrift shops for nothing and then she flips it on Poshmark for a nice profit. For other items like books, electronics, and furniture, try apps like Mercari or Facebook Marketplace. Other side gigs to come up with an extra $100 you can do deliveries on apps like Postmates, DoorDash or Instacart. You can become a dog walker on Rover or you can do handyman tasks like assembling Ikea furniture on apps like Handyman and TaskRabbit.

So please don’t say I don’t have any skills because everyone has skills and interests that they can turn into a side gig to bring in extra income. Getting out of debt isn’t just going to happen by itself. You know, nothing changes if nothing changes. You’re going to have to do things you’ve never done before and get out of your comfort zone a little and I know you can do it.

Now, $100 a month may not seem like a lot but for a $30,000 loan, paying an extra $100 towards your student loans shaves off almost 10 years off your loan term and the reason why paying even just a hundred dollars extra towards principal makes such a big difference, meaning shortening your debt pay off period by 10 years, is because of the way student loan amortization schedules work.

In the beginning, almost all of your monthly payment goes towards interest rather than paying down the principal. So your monthly payment is going to be fixed but the portion of that payment that goes towards interest versus principal changes over time. So when you first start paying back your loans, almost your entire monthly payment is going into your lender’s pocket as interest and hardly any of it is going towards principal, which means at the beginning, your student loan balance goes down very, very slowly because it’s all going towards interest. But towards the end, it goes down a lot faster.

This is exactly how mortgages work as well and because of the way these loans amortize over time, it pays off huge and I mean huge to start making extra payments sooner rather than later because anything extra that you pay goes directly towards your principal, which has the double whammy effect of reducing your balance owed and

So again, just the hundred dollars extra a month to pay off your student loans 10 years faster. That’s pretty freaking great and I’m not telling you to live on just Ramen noodles and be broke all the time. I just want you to come up with an extra $100 because everyone can manage $100.

Tip #3

Tip number three. Once you come up with that extra cash to throw towards your student loans every month, it’s time to decide where and how to apply for that extra principal payment. You have a choice between two debt payoff methods, the debt snowball or the debt avalanche.

The Debt Snowball method is where you pay off your debts in order from the smallest balance to the highest, regardless of the interest rate. For example, let’s say you have three different student loans; a $10,000 loan at 10% interest, a $2,000 loan at 5% interest, and an $18,000 loan at 6% interest.

With the debt snowball method, you would direct your $100 of extra money towards the $2,000 loan first, while making only the required minimum monthly payments on the other two loans. Then when that $2,000 loan is paid off in full, you would direct the extra $100, as well as whatever monthly payment you were making towards that first loan, towards your next biggest loan, and then you just rinse and repeat until all of your debt is paid off. Most people get out of debt this way within five to seven years, if not sooner.

The Debt Avalanche method, also known as debt stacking is where you pay off your debts in order from the highest interest rate to the lowest. So going back to my previous numbers, you’d start paying off the $10,000 loan first because it has the highest interest rate and then once that’s paid off, you’d work on the next highest interest rate loan next, the $18,000 loan. Then very last, you would pay off the $2,000 loan.

But Rose, isn’t the debt avalanche method obviously the better choice? Anyone with basic math skills knows that alone with 10% interest is too high and that’s the one you should pay off first. My answer to this is yes, mathematically the debt avalanche method makes more sense because obviously you’d want to pay off the highest interest rate loan first. However, it’s not just about math and logic. It takes a lot longer to see progress with the debt avalanche method than it does with the debt snowball method. The motivation piece is huge. So much of finance and getting out of debt is behavioral, so the reason why the debt snowball is so effective is that you start seeing progress much faster. Most people who have a lot of debt, they feel very hopeless, so it’s very important to get that motivational push early on, which is exactly what the debt snowball is designed to do.

Once you wipe out that $2,000 loan, you’re going to feel really good about yourself and you’re going to want to keep going. It feels way more rewarding to completely knock out one small loan than to make tiny, barely visible progress on multiple loans. Again, it’s all about getting that dopamine hit. There’s also plenty of studies shows that the debt snowball method is more effective than the avalanche method, precisely because it’s so much better for your psychology.

I started with the debt snowball method and I have to say I’m really glad I did because in the beginning I really just didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, so the debt snowball helped me start paying off entire loan balances, which fired up my motivation like crazy and that’s why I was able to make so much progress in just a few years.

Now that I’m super committed to being debt-free, I switched over to the debt avalanche method because I no longer need that motivational boost and I’m pretty disciplined with my pay off plan. So for you, if you’re just starting out and you feel super overwhelmed by your debt, I recommend starting with the debt snowball method until you get some quick wins under your belt and you get that early boost of motivation and then you can consider switching to the avalanche method later once you feel like you’ve got the motivational juice to keep going.

Tip #4

My next tip is to consider refinancing any student loans with interest rates higher than 6%. If you have a good credit score, you’ll probably qualify for something much lower than 6%, like 4% or even less and if you have someone who will co-sign your loans for you, you might be able to get something even lower.

Now there are fees associated with refinancing, so it’s not always worth it, but if you can lower your rate after accounting for the fees, then you’ll be able to pay off your loans much faster, so consider looking into it. Start shopping around online. For example, SoFi has a free online application where you just basically put in some financial information about your job experience, your loan balance, and then they’ll show you what kind of offers an interest rate you qualify for. It only takes a few minutes and it’s not a hard credit inquiry, so it’s not going to affect your credit. It doesn’t hurt to look.

Final Tip- Tip # 5

My final tip is my favorite and it is to want more for yourself. We live in a society where debt is totally normalized. We’ve basically just become numb to living with debt and almost everybody in America finances their college degree, house, car, vacations and the average American has $6,000 of credit card debt, $30,000 of student loan debt and most likely also has a car loan and a mortgage but just because everyone around you has debt doesn’t mean you need to be in debt either.

In my family, I grew up thinking debt was normal because whenever we didn’t have enough money for something, it always seemed like just getting into debt was the answer, whether it was for college or a house or whatever. But consider that there are countries where people pay cash for everything and if they don’t have the cash, they just don’t buy it. We have to stop resorting to debt to pay for things and learn how to delay gratification and just save cash for things and to not just accept the status quo of being in debt.

This is the stuff that society isn’t going to teach you because if everyone stopped financing their purchases and started paying in cash for everything, then companies wouldn’t be able to sell as much and the economy would probably slow down a lot. Debt is literally what keeps us trapped in the hamster wheel of consumerism and materialism. Just imagine what it would feel like to not owe a monthly payment to anyone anymore and all the money you make would just go straight into your pocket instead of to other people. You could start investing so you can start making money on your money. You could work smarter and not harder and that’s why becoming debt-free is the first step to financial independence.

You can totally get there if you’re all about wanting more for yourself, breaking the status quo and becoming debt-free. When do you want to finish paying off your student loans? I’ve got $20,000 more to go and my goal is to pay it all off by the end of 2020.

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YouTuber, Money Expert, Educator, Traveler, Rebel, and #1 Book Nerd. My mission is to empower you with the mindset and financial know-how to create a life of TOTAL freedom.

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Rose

YouTuber, Money Expert, Educator, Traveler, Rebel, and #1 Book Nerd. My mission is to empower you with the mindset and financial know-how to get more of what you want out of life.