For some of us, student loans are a necessary evil.They help us afford advanced degrees, but they can be stressful and difficult to manage. We all know it’s best to pay off (most) debt as quickly as possible, but how? How can you maximize your monthly student loan payment without going broke or sacrificing your emergency fund? We’re here to tell you!

1. How much should you put toward your student loans every month?

If you are already money managing, then you know your monthly income and your monthly expenditures (fixed and flexible). Your money management records will show you how much “extra” money you have from your paycheck. Now, you can dedicate all that extra money to your loan or you can take a look at your varied expenses and see where you can save even more to maximize that extra bundle. If sending all your extra to the bank hurts too much, decide exactly how much extra money you want to allocate towards paying down your student loan each month and then decide where you want to spend (or save) the rest of your extra money.

2. Should I be saving money while paying off my debts? Which is more important?

The only thing worse than debt is more debt. So yes! You should still be working on putting aside some money for savings. You need an emergency fund. Nav.it recommends having enough money in an emergency fund to cover 3 – 6 months of your fixed expenses (rent, utilities, food, etc). Emergencies do happen and if you can’t pay for those emergencies, you’ll just have more debt to worry about in addition to your student loans. So maintain your emergency fund, and know that emergency money does not count as “extra”.

To figure out how to save while paying off your debt check out this resource: https://www.debtroundup.com/my-percentage-based-debt-and-savings-rule/

3. Make more money

Obviously we would all like the chance to make more money! IF you are working a full-time job, consider turning a hobby into a side hustle. We are big fans of side hustles, but even if you aren’t, committing to one for the short-term to help pay off debt can be a life changer. If this isn’t feasible, asses the likelihood of getting a raise. Remember, in the U.S., women are paid 22% less than men, so asking for a raise is almost necessary. Negotiating your salary sounds daunting but with the right tools it is doable and empowering.

4. Send any bonuses straight to your pay off plan

Recently got a raise? Use it to pay off your loans. Even cash gifts from birthdays, Christmas, graduation or other celebrations can be dedicated to your loans. It’s easy to do this because that cash isn’t yet included in your income amount, so if you dedicate a cash gift to your loan repayment immediately upon receiving it, then it won’t feel as painful.

5. Make it a group project

Student loans can be stressful and it can feel pretty lonely if you don’t know anyone else experiencing the same stress. Talk to your friends about it and maybe even share your goals and progress together. If you don’t know anyone else with student loans, search for online groups that discuss student loans and repayment. Reddit might seem like a weird place to find student loan advice but check out this resource that summarizes Reddit discussions. These groups can keep you accountable to paying off your loan as quickly as possible and they can be a source of encouragement. We all win when we share our Nav.it financial success stories.

 

Image credit: Mirjana Jesic

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