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Are you feeling the buzz of spring cleaning energy? Why not use that feeling to clean up your messy student loans? Whether you need to find relief from your student loan bills or are feeling motivated to pay off your loans faster, here are six tips for spring cleaning your student debt!
- Track down the details of your loans
- Crunch the numbers to see your long-term costs
- Consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche method
- Find ways to lower your interest rate
- Explore different repayment plans
- Set your personal student loan goal
1. Track down the details of your loans
Before you can start to clean up your student loans, you first need to know what you’re working with. So take some time to track down the details of each and every loan.
- How much you owe
- If the loan is federal or private
- Your interest rate
- Your monthly payment
- Your lender or loan servicer
- Your login details for your online accounts
It’s important to have a visual record of your loans so you know exactly what you’re working with. Once you have all this information, you can start to come up with a plan to tackle your debt.
2. Crunch the numbers to see your long-term costs
Did you gather all your student loan information? Awesome!
Your next step is to crunch the numbers on your loans so you can see your long-term costs. I recommend using a student loan calculator that does the hard work for you, like this one from Bankrate.
Simply enter your balance, interest rate, and repayment terms, and you’ll see exactly what your monthly bill is and your long-term interest costs.
Why is this helpful? Well, for one, you’ll see how even a slight difference in an interest rate can save (or cost) you thousands of dollars over the years.
And two, seeing how much interest you’ll be spending over the long run might be the burst of motivation you need to get serious about debt repayment.
If you’re ready — and able — to pay off your student loans ahead of schedule, read on for two strategies that could help.
3. Consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche method
Maybe you’re ready to start tackling your student loans in earnest, but you’re not sure where to start. Well, two methods people swear by are the debt snowball and debt avalanche method.
The Debt Snowball Method
With the debt snowball method, you list your loans in order from smallest balance to largest balance. Then, you tackle the loan with the smallest balance first, throwing extra payments at it here and there until you pay it off completely. Then you go on to the loan with the next highest balance.
According to Dave Ramsey, the debt snowball method is effective because it gives you the psychological boost you need to keep going. Debt repayment can be a long and tough road, but completely closing an account is a win that will keep you motivated.
The Debt Avalanche Method
The debt snowball approach, however, isn’t technically going to save you the most money. If that’s your goal, consider the debt avalanche method instead.
With the debt avalanche, you list out your debts in order of interest rate. Then, you work on paying off your loan with the highest interest rate first. Once you’ve paid off this one, you move on to the loan with the next highest interest rate.
This strategy will save you the most on interest, but you won’t necessarily pay off a loan in its entirety as fast as you would with the debt snowball method. You need to think about what will keep you motivated and on track to choose the approach that works best for you.
Note that even though you might be prioritizing one loan over others, you’re still keeping up with minimum payments on all your debts so you don’t fall behind.
4. Find ways to lower your interest rate
Paying off student loans faster could work if you have room in your budget. Maybe you find ways to cut costs, such as going out to eat less or moving to a cheaper apartment. Or maybe you find ways to make more money through a side hustle or online gig.
But not everyone can afford to make extra payments on their loans. Even if you can’t, you could still find ways to lower your interest rate.
Most lenders, for instance, offer a 0.25% discount on your rate if you sign up for autopay. Some also offer discounts if you’re a banking customer or make on-time payments for a period of time.
Another savvy way to lower your interest rate is through student loan refinancing. Through refinancing, you could score a lower rate that saves you thousands of dollars.
But not everyone can qualify for refinancing, and it does have some potential downsides if you refinance federal student loans.
So make sure to learn about the requirements of student loan refinancing here, as well as the pros and cons for student loan borrowers in this guide.
5. Explore different student loan repayment plans
Along with coming up with your own personal plan of student loan repayment attack, it’s also worth exploring the different repayment plans already available to you.
Most federal student loans automatically go on the standard 10-year plan with fixed payments. But if you need to adjust payments, you could consider applying for,
- Income-Based Repayment
- Pay As You Earn
- Revised Pay As You Earn
- Income-Contingent Repayment
- Extended Repayment
- Graduated Repayment
These plans could be a huge help if your student loan bills are breaking the bank and you need some relief.
Private student loans don’t usually have the same options, but you might be able to work out an alternative arrangement by calling your lender.
Refinancing student loans also lets you choose new terms, usually between five and 20 years.
6. Set your personal student loan goal
When it comes to paying off debt, everyone’s goals will be different. So it’s crucial to think about your individual circumstances and to set goals that make sense for you.
If your bills are completely overwhelming, look for ways to lower them, like by applying for income-driven repayment.
Or if you’re feeling super motivated to pay off your loans, find ways to make more room in your budget through a combination of spending less and making more money.
And come up with a realistic plan for paying off loans, whether that means making an extra payment of $50 a week or month until your loan is gone.
Although it might require some sacrifice, all this hard work could be worth it when you think about all the money you’ll save on interest.
Plus, you could move years closer to a life free of student loan debt!
In the end, your circumstances are different from other people’s. After educating yourself about your options, come up with a student loan repayment plan that makes sense for you.
Want better rates? Here are the best banks to refinance student loans:
|Variable rates start at...||Fixed rates start at...||Repayment terms||Welcome bonus||Check your rates|
|4.54%||4.49%||5 - 20 years||$200||Visit LendKey|
|4.99%||4.47%||5 - 20 years||$200||Visit Earnest|
|4.22%||3.97%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$120||Visit Laurel Road|
|4.53%||4.40%||5 - 20 years||$100 or $200, depending on the amount you refinance||Visit Credible|
|5.09%||4.74%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$100||Visit SoFi|
|4.53%||4.83%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$100||Visit ELFI|