The days of partying at college are over. Sadly, you packed up all the stuff in your college apartment into your old beat up car, took one last look at the university, and drove off back to your hometown so you can join the boring responsible world of the working adult.
If leaving college wasn’t sad enough, the massive pile of student loan debt looms over your head with a big cheesy grin saying, “you’re going to have to pay me back soon.”
Nothing says “welcome to adulthood” as much as the slap in the face of leaving the most fun experience of your life to one of the most stressful transitions of finding a job, figuring out how to pay the debt back, and other young adult stresses that might come along like marriage!
Don’t worry though. I don’t want to see you stressed out. So today I put together a plan of paying off your student loans fast. It won’t be easy, but with enough hard work you’ll be debt free in no time!
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Pay off student loans fast tip #1 – Find a Job
Finding a job to pay off your student loans should sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of college students who graduate and give up on finding employment.
One college student I know had quite a bit of student loan debt built up. Once they graduated, they searched off and on to find a job for three months before they called it quits. They decided the economy was against them and decided not to pursue a career despite all the hard work they did to obtain their four-year degree.
I understand that the economy doesn’t always make it easy to find a job. However, I can guarantee that there is a zero percent chance of finding one if you stop looking. Jobs can be hard to come by, but they are not impossible to find.
I have often heard the saying, “If you are unemployed then your job is finding a job.” I’m not going to lie, I think the saying is a bit on the extreme side. I agree that you should spend time looking every day, but working at finding a job eight hours a day is a little extreme. Search job boards, make some phone calls and send some emails two to three hours a day.
Eventually, with enough persistence, you will find someone willing to hire you. You might even find a job outside of your field that you like better and also pays better. Jobs don’t always get posted in your area each day, but there should be new job activity every few days, and you want to be the first to apply.
Remember, you cannot pay off your debt if you have no income!
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Pay off student loans fast tip #2 – Budget Like a College Student
Most college students have mastered the art of living frugally. Living off of zero dollars becomes a way of life for someone without enough money to pay for school.
Often we are too quick to leave the frugal college lifestyle behind once we start to get a steady paycheck. All of a sudden we found money and feel that we can buy things because we aren’t used to the extra money, so it burns a hole in our pocket.
The first few dollars you start making out off college are some of the most valuable dollars you will make because it sets the tone for the rest of your life. We can choose to blow the money or carefully save it, invest it for retirement, and pay off debt. Using the money responsible now through investing and paying off debt will enable you to retire and live in a house that you own.
Now that you have a job, can you continue living off of almost nothing? How much money can you save this month? The more you cut back on expenses, the more debt you can pay off.
It will be difficult to put aside your desires to buy things. We are only human and America makes some cool stuff. I challenge you to save money and get motivated about paying off debt. Remember, the less stuff you buy and the more money you can save now, the better life you’ll have once your debt is all paid off.
Pay off student loans fast tip #3 – Find a Side Job
Getting a job right out of college is an awesome feeling, but serious debt repayment happens when you work a second part-time job on the side. What’s better than one income? Two incomes of course!
Having a second job isn’t fun. Working one job is hardly any fun. It’s a lot of work balancing the intense workload. But if you are barely making progress on your loan repayment from your primary source of income, while on a tight budget, then you should consider part-time work.
Consider if you delivered pizzas after work and on the weekends. You might make roughly an extra $1,000 in income each month from your regular pay and tips. This additional $1,000 is a huge amount toward your loan repayment.
You won’t have to work your part-time job forever. Only you can decide how long you need to work for your debt situation.
Pay off student loans fast tip #4 – Evaluate Your Housing Situation
Housing is one of the most expensive choices we make. As someone looking to repay a lot of debt, you should ask yourself, “what housing situation is the most inexpensive?”
Obviously, living with your parents might seem like the logical choice, especially if they let you stay rent-free and continue to feed you. However, living with your parents isn’t always an option or a glamorous lifestyle. Sometimes the need to be free of parental rule outweighs the benefits of living at home.
So if you are considering moving out of your parent’s house, what’s your next cheapest option? Do your research and find the lowest rent possible. Getting a roommate to split your rent is a good choice. Just make sure you find someone that you can get along with.
If you end up deciding you want to purchase a house, then try and keep your loan as small as possible by getting an inexpensive home. It isn’t very common, but getting a duplex and renting one side out is a method used by some people to help pay the mortgage off for them. Duplexes are one way that you can build equity while still putting a roof over your head and may turn into a nice passive income stream for yourself down the road.
There are pros and cons for each housing situation. Carefully consider your options and choose the one that is best for you.Sharing is Caring!Click To Tweet
Pay off student loans fast tip #5 – Apply for a new job
I would say being loyal is a good thing. We must be loyal to our families and our friends. Loyalty is something that seems to transfer over to our jobs, and sometimes we feel like we cannot leave because we are part of a team.
You must change your attitude about your company and be willing to join another company, realizing that your job is a business relationship. If you’ve been at your company for at least a year, then it’s time to consider browsing your options.
When you graduate from college and start looking for jobs, companies know they can pay you a low rate from a lack of experience, and you’re probably willing to take anything to start paying off your student loans. It sucks, but remember a company is using you to make themselves wealthy. They would be willing to pay you nothing but unfortunately for them, it’s illegal in most cases.
Now that you’ve been working for a year or so at a low pay rate, you have some real-world experience. Your current company is going to probably pay you a standard pay raise of 2% a year until you get promoted or retire. However, if you jump ships, chances are you might get a significant salary increase because you have more experience.
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Why you should jump ship!
Here’s an example of why you should jump ships to another company. Someone I know once had a salary out of college around $43k a year. The company gave him a lowball offer and weren’t willing to negotiate. The economy was slow, and the guy took the $43k a year salary for the sole purpose of gaining some experience. The company was excited because they got the guy at a low price.
After eight months of working at the company and gaining experience the guy started applying for jobs and got an offer somewhere between $60k-70k with better benefits and retirement plan matching. Now the first company was stuck trying to fill the spot by trying to convince someone else to take a low salary.
As you can see, sometimes it’s better to gain experience at a company and then go somewhere that will pay you what you’re worth. In today’s economy, companies know they can pay you a low rate because there is a lot of competition for the open jobs. To get ahead, you should follow the money and go to companies who will pay you more.
Work hard, budget carefully, and you should make a significant impact on your debt. Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite tips for paying off student loan debt? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are looking to save more money, consider joining my free budget and save money course. The course helps families identify areas for improvement and overhauls your finances.