Paying off debt can be stressful and overwhelming. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
The term debt is often viewed negatively because it’s associated with owing someone money, and it can be hard to spend or save the way you want to when you have monthly debt payments.
Student loan debt is one of the most common types of debt, with about 1-in-8 people (nearly 13%) in America having it. In 2021, the average federal student loan debt is $36,510 per borrower, with an average interest rate of around 6%.
Regardless of how much you owe, paying off your student loan debt doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are a few tips for paying off your student loans.
Make a plan
If you have a plan or strategy for repaying your loans written down, it can seem less daunting to tackle. Create a visualization of how much you have to pay, how much you’ll pay each month, and when you’ll pay it off in full. Seeing an end date can help provide peace of mind. Otherwise, the payments can seem endless.
Set a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goal for how you want to repay your loan and when you want to be finished. Start by calculating how much you can realistically pay each month, and divide your debt total by that number to get the number of payments you’ll have to make.
You may also want to look into consolidating your loans or seeing if you qualify for student loan forgiveness. You can go to studentaid.gov to apply for an income-driven repayment plan or to learn more about government forgiveness programs. If you have private loans, contact your lender to discuss repayment plans or deferment.
Once you have a plan and know how much you can pay off each month, set up automatic monthly payments. This helps you pay off the loan without even having to think about it and develop a habit of prioritizing that payment each month.
Refinancing your student loans means taking out a new loan through a private lender to help pay off your existing loans. This new loan may have a lower interest rate, and you also may be able to choose a loan repayment term that works better for you.
For example, you may want to shorten your loan term and make higher payments each month. Or, you can extend the term, so your payments are lower.
By refinancing, you’re only paying off one loan instead of multiple. Plus, making smaller and more manageable payments can help you feel less stressed.
Use repayment strategies and methods
There are a number of debt repayment methods and strategies out there to help make repaying debt less stressful or overwhelming. One of the recommended methods is the debt snowball method.
With the debt snowball method, you start by paying off your smallest debt first. Still make your minimum payments on the other debts, but focus your efforts on completely paying off the smallest one. Once that’s paid off, tackle the next smallest one. Continue on until you’ve paid off all of your debts.
Using this method can help you gain momentum with payments and build confidence as you see your debts eliminated one by one. Eliminating debts can help ease stress because it’s one less payment to worry about, and interest will no longer be accruing.
Remember the pros of having debt
While you don’t want to have debt forever, and it can make saving challenging, there are actually some advantages to having debt. Keeping that in mind can make the fact that you have debt less stressful.
- Predictable. With most student loans, your monthly payments are predictable. This makes it easy to plan ahead, budget, and know when you’ll be debt-free. It also helps ensure you never miss a payment.
- Credit score. Having a good mix of different types of debt can help boost your credit score. Paying off debt on time is another great way to boost your credit.
- Possibility. If you have student loan debt, it’s likely because you went to college or got another form of post-high school education. Typically, higher education helps open the door for more job opportunities and could earn you a greater salary.
Author: Caitlyn is a freelance writer from the Cincinnati area with clients ranging from digital marketing agencies, insurance/finance companies, and healthcare organizations to travel and technology blogs. She loves reading, traveling, and camping—and hanging with her dogs Coco and Hamilton.
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