Did you know that black and African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates? And women hold two-thirds of the nation’s student loan debt. If the scales haven’t been tipped in your favor and you’ve had to work extra hard to fund your college expenses, then this article is for you.
Whether you want to pay off your student loans in five years or simply pay off your student loans faster than you already are, here are eight easy-to-implement tips that can help you reach your financial goals.
How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast
1. Learn How to Budget
You can’t pay off your student loans faster than you already are if you don’t learn how to budget your money. We recommend using a zero-based budgeting system for student loan spending, but you can check out our roundup of other top (i.e., FREE) budgeting apps we suggest for 2021.
Following a zero-based budgeting system, you’ll account for every single dollar that you earn. This means that you’ll be forced to take a look at where you’re probably spending money unnecessarily, and you’ll likely even find some additional cash you didn’t know you could “spend” on student loans.
Pro Tip: If zero-based budgeting isn’t your style, try the envelope system with a budgeting app like Goodbudget.
2. Cut Unnecessary Spending
After looking at what you’re currently earning and spending, you’ll have a clear overview of where you can cut your spending to save more for student loans. This is one of the easiest ways to pay off your student loans fast as it doesn’t require you to get a second job or earn money from some wild investing scheme.
If you have trouble saving or often overspend, we suggest taking a look at recurring payments first. Are there any subscription services you can suspend while you’re paying off your student loans? We’re talking HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, subscription boxes, etc. If you cut HBO Now and Amazon Prime, you’re saving nearly $28 a month, and that’s a great start.
3. Make More than the Maximum Payment
It’s hard to pay off your student loans fast if you’re making the minimum payment, as this payment was designed to stretch out repayment over the span of years, if not decades. Not sure if this method is worth it? Let’s break it down!
Let’s say you have $30,000 in student loan debt. And, for this example’s sake, let’s say that it’s all in one loan with a 10-year term and a 5% interest rate. According to a student loan repayment calculator, you’re looking at monthly payments of $318. Over ten years, you’d pay just over $38,000 in total.
Now, if you increase your monthly payments by just $63, which is 20% more, you’d be able to pay off the loan in full in 8 years instead of 10. And you’d save over $1,600 in the end!
4. Look Into Refinancing if You Have Good Credit
While refinancing student loans is one of the most effective strategies for those looking to pay them off faster, it’s not a strategy that’s designed for everybody. However, the principal goal here is to decrease your interest rates so that you’re paying off your actual loans and not just interest.
Depending on your credit score, you might be eligible to refinance and consolidate your loans into one monthly payment. Alternatively, you can also refinance just one loan, and the decision to refinance one or multiple loans depends on the current interest rate for each loan.
According to Bankrate, student loan rates aren’t likely to rise in 2021, with Undergraduate Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans sitting at around 2.75%. If that’s lower than your current interest rates, it might be time to consider refinancing.
5. Pay Off Capitalized Interest
If the federal government doesn’t subsidize your loans, then they’ll start accruing interest while you’re still in school. Check the status of your loans, and then begin paying off capitalized interest while you can. If you don’t, you’ll eventually have to pay interest on a much larger amount.
So, if you’re still in school or if your deferment and forbearance periods are about to end, consider making a lump sum payment that covers the cost of any capitalized interest that’s accrued. Or, if you’re just getting started and won’t graduate for another few years, considering budgeting to pay off that interest now.
6. Enroll in Autopay
Sometimes, it’s less about the ability to cover the costs of paying back student loans, and it’s more about the fact that people simply have a hard time remembering to pay off their loans on time. If you fall into the category of forgetfulness related to bill pay, go ahead and enroll in autopay.
There’s another way better perk to this, though! Federal student loan providers and even certain private lenders offer an interest rate discount if you enroll in autopay. It’s not a huge difference, but when combined with the other tactics on this list, you’ll be able to reduce your interest rate significantly and apply more of your savings towards loans.
7. Consider the Debt Avalanche Method
Type A personalities will love this debt repayment strategy as it’s helpful when organizing your overall financial strategy year after year. The debt avalanche method is a repayment strategy in which you make the minimum payment for all of your loans and then put any additional cash towards paying off the loan with the highest interest rate. Over time, the idea is that you reduce the amount of interest you have to pay and ultimately save more money.
To be successful with this strategy, it helps if you’re able to earn extra cash to pay off the high-interest loans. Starting a side hustle, saving more than $100 a month, and reducing your spending are effective ways to accomplish this.
8. Sign Up for WealthStack
Financial apps help you optimize your budgeting, spending, and savings, but what if there was an app where you could receive in-depth financial assistance for your specific goals? If you’re looking to pay off your student loans fast, wouldn’t it be nice to receive guided tips and assistance to help you accomplish that goal? That’s what Wealth Stack is for.
Download the app for free on the App Store or on Google Play. There, you can start learning through our helpful video courses and through the content that our professional, expert Speakers upload regularly.