Tools and Tricks to Pay Off Student Loan Debt Smarter and Faster.
(ThyBlackMan.com) When graduates leave school, they are typically stuck with a 10-year student loan repayment plan by default. But what if you don’t want that debt hanging over your head and pulling from your wallet for 10 years? If you want to repay your loans faster, so you can start investing in your future, there are some simple but effective ways to make it happen.
Consider Refinancing Your Loans
For some borrowers, student loan refinancing is a strong money-saving option. Refinancing means a bank will repay all of your student loans and issue a new loan with a new interest rate and repayment term. The biggest boon is that this will mean much lower interest rates, and in turn, great savings.
This option is suited best to those with a higher income and good credit. If that description fits you, research some of the best banks that will offer you the lowest interest rates and best benefits with your refinancing.
However, there is a catch. While refinancing is typically helpful for private loans, it will mean you cannot take advantage of the benefits and flexibility allowed through federal student loans. That includes income-based repayment options like PAYE and REPAYE. Check out a student loan calculator to see what your savings would be through refinancing, then make your determination from there.
Use Cash Windfalls Towards Paying Your Student Loans
When you come into extra money through a birthday, holiday, or annual bonus, the urge may be to spend it on something exciting for yourself. Resist that urge. Instead, take that profit and turn it back towards paying off your loans.
Using cash windfalls towards student loans can quickly add up to a faster payoff. And you don’t have to use all of it, of course. Even portioning half of your payday towards your loans will have an impact, and if you do it consistently you will add up thousands of dollars ahead of schedule in your debt repayment.
Make A Plan With A Student Loan Calculator
Strong planning is one of the most important steps in student loan repayment. Give yourself a baseline by finding out how much you will pay per month in a 10-year repayment plan. Then, you can start to explore other options.
You can use the various student loan calculators available online to find and explore different options. That includes how much you will pay through refinancing, comparing the rates of different types of student loans, find your tax interest deduction, and more. You can use this prepayment calculator to experiment with ways to pay your loans back early.
If you emerge from school with a loan of $25,000, you would pay $287 a month (with the standard interest APR) to meet the standard repayment plan. If you bump that timeline up to seven years, it would mean making a payment of $374.88 per month, a difference of $87.18.
However, factor for the interest you will avoid through paying off your loans three years early and it’s a total of $3,034 you will save overall. That’s more than enough to compensate for the extra money in monthly dues—as long as you can afford it.
Trim Your Budget
You already know how far an extra $80 in monthly payments can go towards saving you money and repaying your loans faster. So making the necessary budgetary constraints to go above your baseline monthly payments will be worth it in the long run.
Of course, that means you will have to make concessions in other parts of your life. It’s tantalizing to spend on immediate satisfactions like new clothes or a night out. But making sacrifices on a few nights of fun means more fun spending later.
Cut back on certain leisure expenses in your budget. Limit yourself on the meals you eat out, nights on the town, etc. The best way to keep track is to make a strict weekly or monthly budget for yourself to adhere to, and carefully track all of your spending each day and week. You may even want to explore coupons, Groupon, or other thrifty saving options. There’s nothing wrong with cutting some corners in spending costs, and you may find it so helpful that you keep up with the practice even after your loans are paid off!
If you worry about having difficulty keeping to the budget, you can add your extra payments into your automatic monthly charges on your loans. That way, the withdrawals will motivate you to stick to the budget you’ve set for yourself so you can avoid falling behind.
As you set your budget, carefully plot out what you expect to spend on required expenditures like food, rent, etc. In addition to leisure costs, see if there are other places your budget could be trimmed. Can you live without cable for a while? What about your car insurance — are you sure you are getting the best rate possible?
There are always ways to save. You just have to go out, find them, and use them.
Staff Writer; Chris Madison