If you’re one of the 44 million Americans dealing with student loans, it might seem like the end is nowhere in sight. However, there are ways that you can better manage your student loan to pay it off easier and sooner.
SET YOUR BUDGET
When it comes to cutting your expenses, it’s all about what you know, and you are willing and able to sacrifice. Do you think you can eat out less? Do you think you can bike to school or take public transit rather than driving your car and racking up substantial gas bills? These are tough questions to answer, but it can all be worth it if it helps you reduce the crippling student loan debt you are carrying around.
MAKE PAYMENTS MORE THAN ONCE A MONTH
This is an excellent tip that anyone who is struggling to pay their student loans off should consider. It’s also guaranteed to make a difference in a big way. All you have to do is take your monthly payments, divide it by two, and make that same amount payment twice a month rather than once.
It might seem like a strictly surface change that actually impacts nothing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Look at it this way. There are 52 weeks in a year, and if you’re making a payment one time every two weeks, that equals 26 payments a year. Twenty-six payments a year equals 13 full payments in 12 months. So, each year you go with this strategy, you will basically make 13 months’ worth of payments every year. This can have a significant impact on reducing your debt amount over the years as you get closer to a debt-free you.
PAY OFF THE HIGH-INTEREST LOANS FIRST
This is another great tactic for reducing your student loan debt that you might not be utilizing as best you could. If you, like so many Americans had to take out multiple loans, it’s essential to know precisely what the interest rates of those loans are so that you can know where to put your money first and foremost.
Don’t just throw cash at your debt and expect it to go away. That won’t help anything and will likely just lead to you juggling debt as you make payments only to watch them disappear due to interest charges. You have to be strategic and figure out what cash should go where.
One of the best practices to operate under is to pay the minimum amount due on all your loans, and then apply any extra cash you have to the loans with the highest interest rate. That will help keep the fees down and keep the loan from ballooning out of control.
Once you’ve paid off the loan with the highest interest rate in full, you then move on to your next loan and apply whatever extra cash you have to the loan with the second highest interest rate.
You continue this practice – which is commonly known as the “debt avalanche” – until you have paid off your loans in full.
LESSEN YOUR INTEREST RATE
One super simple way to take a large amount of debt and turn it into a smaller amount is to take advantage of interest rate reductions that may be available to you. One way to lower your interest rate is to sign up for auto-payments. This helps in two ways. First off, the money that you are paying that month will be automatically taken out of your account, so you don’t have to worry about late charges. On top of that, you could have your interest rate reduced by as much as a quarter of a percent.
It might not seem like a significant change, but it can make a big difference over time. Additional interest rate reductions vary depending on who your lender is. You should make sure to check your lender’s website to see how you can better take advantage of these offers.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POTENTIAL TAX DEDUCTIONS
Now, this tip won’t make all of your student debt disappear, but it’s important to remember not to leave any money on the table. The IRS allows you to deduct up to $2,500 of student loan from your student loan taxes. There are a few stipulations, though.
First, you have to have attended an eligible higher education institution, but that includes the vast majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. Then, you have to make sure you are eligible in terms of income. If you make over $80,000 per year, you will not qualify for the deduction. If you make over $65,000, you will only be eligible for a portion of the deduction. Other than that, you’re good to go!