Did you know that the average student has close to $30,000 in student loan debt after they graduate? Keep in mind that this is just an average. There are some people that have less, but there are many students that have far more. No matter how much you have in student debt, the only way to get rid of it is to start chipping away at it a little at a time. When you graduate, it may seem easier to just let it sit on the backburner for a while. This is never a good idea. Here are some tips that will help when it comes to budgeting after graduation so that you can make sure that your student loan repayment is successful.
Create a Budget
You will want to start out by creating a budget. When you do this, you will need to make a list of all of your expenses. Don’t just include your bills. You also need to include incidentals and extras that you may need to spend money on. This will make it much easier for you to actually stick to your budget. Once you have a comprehensive list of expenses, you will need to make a list of your income sources. It is ideal if your money in is greater than your money out, but that isn’t always the case. We can fix that part later, but starting with a budget that has everything covered is the best way to get started.
Above all else, you need to make sure that you stay organized. This is especially true if you have multiple student loans that you are responsible for paying. It is not difficult to forget a payment here or there, but it can really do a number on your credit. Keep your budget and other financial information organized and together. Make a calendar that lets you know when everything needs to be paid. Pay early if you can – it never hurts!
Decipher Between Wants and Needs
When creating your budget, did you find that you have more expenses than income? If so, then it may be a time to sit down and write a wants vs. needs chart. If there are some things in your budget that aren’t really necessary, think about cutting them out. Consider skipping on that spring break trip to the beach this year. Put more efforts into the things that you need, instead of focusing on the things that you want. This will help a great deal, not only with your budget, but with the responsibility that comes along with adulthood.
Start and Build an Emergency Fund
As you start earning money, try to set some aside each month to build up an emergency fund. Life is pretty unpredictable, and often times things come up that are completely unexpected. When this happens, you may find yourself scrambling to figure out how you will cover the financial aspect of these things that come up. The good news is that if you have a little nest egg set to the side, it will really help you to not stress out over how you will cover things. Start slow and build it as you can, but remember that it is for emergency use only. (This takes us back to deciphering between wants and needs.)
Consider Working Extra Hours or a Second Job for More Disposable Income
If you find that your budget is really not covering everything, and allowing you to make your student loan payments each month, it may be time to look for a second source of income. Try working extra hours at your current job if you can, or picking up a side job so that you can have more to put towards your savings. If you do this, you may find that you don’t have a lot of free time, but that financial freedom in the future will be totally worth it.
Consider Lowering Your Payments to Make Them More Affordable
Finally, you may consider making your student loan payments lower each month to help them be more affordable. There are several ways that you can do this. You may consider a federal consolidation loan, which helps to combine your loans and give you one monthly payment. This can also sometimes lengthen your term, making the payments lower. Just remember, if you do this, chances are you will pay towards your loans for a longer period of time, meaning more interest will be paid out. Another similar but slightly different alternative is private student loan refinancing and consolidation. This works in the same way, but your interest rate is determined by creditworthiness as opposed to a weighted average on a federal consolidation loans. The major factor here is that you’ll typically save money if approved instead of just paying more over time.
No matter what you do, make sure that you don’t miss out on your payments and do a number to your credit file! Stay on track, and stay focused, and you can have them paid off before you know it.
Drew Cloud started The Student Loan Report when we found it difficult to find student loan news and information in one place. In his free time, you can find Drew playing basketball, reading other blogs, or playing with his Great Dane named Rudy.