When I finished undergrad, my only concern was finding a job and not being back under my mother’s roof for too long. I wasn’t terribly worried about how much student loan payments would or even how they would impact my life years down the road. Now that I’m a real life adult and trying to plan a wedding, buy a house, buy a car, and generally just trying to live, I’m realizing how much of a hold my student loans have on my life. The truth about student loan debt is that it sucks. I don’t know a single person with student loans that feels as though their education was worth it. Despite those feelings, we still have to make those payments, but I have a few tips to avoid letting student loan debt ruin your life.
3 Tips to Not Letting Student Loan Debt Ruin Your Life
- Understand your loans. I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand all of your loans. The first step here is finding your loans. When I graduated I had no clue how many loans I had, what companies they were with, or even how much they were for. The national student loan data system is an EXCELLENT place to start. This site has a record of all of your federal loans. Another helpful place to find your student loans is your credit report. I actually found out about one of my loans when they started reporting late payments to the credit bureau and I was like “wait, who are you people??”. Once you locate them all, take note of how much your monthly payments are, when your deferment ends (if you have one), and if there are any alternate payment options.
- Choose the best payment options. In my opinion, loan companies are starting to catch on to the fact that we can’t afford this high payments. Many lenders now offer options that are geared toward reducing your monthly payments or temporarily postponing them. I personally had so much student loan debt it made the most sense to consolidate majority of them into one more affordable payment. I also am on an income-based repayment plan, which means my payments fluctuate with my annual salary. I highly recommend maintaining open lines of communication with your lenders so that you stay in good financial standing and remain eligible for any and all repayment options.
- Live your life on a budget. All of you should know by now that my middle name should be changed to “budget”. I eat, breath, and sleep a budget and recently realized I kind of enjoy putting budgets together. Until you’re balling out of control (i.e. no longer checking your bank account before you swipe or breathing sigh of relief when it’s finally payday) I believe you should be living on a budget. This is even more important when you have student loans to pay. I’ve found that lenders do not consider how much you pay on household expenses, leisure activities, hobbies, etc. when deciding how much they feel you can afford. This means that you basically have to take what they tell you that you can afford and adjust the rest of your life accordingly. Always remember budget is not a bad word. It simply means that you are intentional with your funds and make conscious decisions on how to spend it.
Royalty in Reality was created with the millennial up to their eyeballs in student loan debt, but still trying to enjoy the fruits of their hard work in mind. It honestly can be a little overwhelming at first. Student loan debt is one of the first adult tasks recent college grads have to figure out. While I may not have all the answers, I want each of you to know I’m here in the trenches with you and totally available to share the little bit of knowledge i’ve gained while figuring out my own student loans. I’ll also be here striving to encourage my fellow royals not to let student loan debt ruin their life, but merely be a bill to be paid like electricity or gas.
What are your tips for not letting student loan debt ruin your life? How do you survive while paying on student loans?