Here are my actual, realistic tips and advice for how I paid off my student loan debt four years early! In this blog, I’m talking about how I paid off my student loans early and fast, tips for how to save money, and advice for tackling student debt using the Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method to pay off student loans.
1. Find a second job
Your second job can be freelance, working from home online, grocery delivery services – whatever legal method you need to secure additional income. I worked two jobs, one full-time position and a part-time gig in retail in addition to freelancing. There are almost no excuses in this age of information to find creative ways to work. Find a job that’s works for you and your schedule.
If you can’t think of any skill to monetize, consider learning new skills on the internet. There’s Upwork. Fiverr. YouTube. Uber. Uber eats/DoorDash/Postmates. Be an Instacart shopper or even a mystery shopper (reimburse in what you may have spent otherwise + extra). This is the first way of how I paid off my student loan debt four years early.
2. Advance in You Current Position
The second way I was able to pay off my student loan debt four years early is while working the second job, try to advance in your current job. Find a job with career progression, sometimes called a “developmental program”, “career ladder”, etc. You will have the opportunity to advance your salary at a faster pace.
Be a rockstar. Show up early, leave late, perform at a high level and exceed all of your performance goals. Know that rockstars get bonuses and bonuses pay bills!
In addition, take advantage of benefits offered at your job. Find IRS tax breaks if applicable. Did you know you can claim student loan interest deduction under a certain dollar threshold? Yes! Does your company offer money-saving benefits, a repayment incentive, or sign-on bonus? Read the terms and if it makes sense – take advantage! Then use the extra cash saved to pay off debt.
3. Take care of your stuff
By taking care of your stuff it will last longer. Don’t buy a new phone every year! Take care of your car and belongings. Don’t loose or mistreat your stuff – you will pay more in the short and long terms. Be good to your stuff and it will be good to you.
4. Sell stuff
If you take care of your stuff, you can sell it at a great price. There are so many places to sell gently used items, like Facebook marketplace, thread up, eBay, Poshmark, Offer up, and Craigslist, just to name a few. Not to mention, there are places to sell your used electronics, books, antiques, and even your home-made crafts.
5. Create a fool-proof spending strategy and stick to it
The best way to pay off your student loan debt early is to create a budget (or spending strategy) and stick to it. Write down all of bills and debts first, then add in a reasonable grocery budget with a modest amount of “fun money”. You will be able to identify your needs vs wants easily, then cut out all the unnecessary spending.
Money flows, so flow with it! Eat at home/bring your lunch – grocery and food spending is the easiest to inflate. Watch your grocery budget. Know how much you owe, to who, the interest rate, and write it down! Cut out the unnecessary.
6. Use coupons, discounts, & apps while shopping for everyday items
Did you know you can find free surveys that can lead to free meals at the bottom of receipts? Consider signing up for free rewards programs, like at Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, or Panera bread. Is there a discount for paying early? Check with your student loan servicer. Also see if there is an interest deductions for setting up Automatic withdrawals. If so, sign up!
Do your research to see if there are any discounts that apply to you. Search for coupons BEFORE you buy anything then use the savings to pay off debt.
7. Make the most of the gatherings
Are you attending a socially-distanced family or friend gathering? Be the person who takes food to go. The host will thank you because it’s less to clean and you get prepared food that you don’t have to cook and didn’t pay for.
Also, be a gracious receiver. Maximize gift-giving occasions by asking for cash, gift cards (for future expenses), or items you want (not need)
8. Split the bills
Subscriptions, streaming services, rent, gas…split it! If you live along, consider moving just outside the city where cost of living is cheaper – I work in the DC metro area where rent is CRAZy, but living just outside the area + commuting expenses still saved over $800/mo…plus I had a bigger space with free parking! For reference, the average rent is $2,000+ vs $1,200 I paid. Sharing is caring.
9. Follow Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method
Use all the extra money from these tips to PAY DOWN DEBT using Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method. Order all of your students loans from the smallest loan to the largest. Use all of the money you saved to pay the loan with the smallest amount first, while still paying the minimum balance on any other loans. By paying the smallest loan first, this will help you gain momentum.
Pay on a bi-weekly basis. Always pay MORE than the minimum, pay every extra dollar you have earned from the points listed above (seriously). Make a payment whenever you get paid and don’t bank of forgiveness programs- they can disappear in an instant.
10. Find cheerleaders
Tell people about your debt. It may be embarrassing or counterintuitive to announce your debt, but accountability matters for your motivation. It will take grit, determination, prayer, and motivation to chop down debt and you need cheerleaders on your side.
The best cheerleaders are those who have paid off their debt or who are on the right track financially (and available to answer your late night “I feel like quitting” calls). If you fall off, they will help you stay focused and get back on track.
These are things I did to pay off my student loans early, but it is by no means an exhaustive list…so please SHARE your best tips in the comments below! What is working for you? Leave it in the comments below!
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage