When you want to be able to manage your student loans, there’s more to it than looking for a quick way to balance the books 5 years after graduating. In fact, it all starts when you’re in college, working hard, and trying to get by. To give you plenty of food for thought, we’ve put together the secrets you need to know so you don’t have to take out more than you need, and you can pay it off nice and quick.
Create a monthly budget, and stick to it
Monthly budgets might seem old fashioned in the days of contactless payments and online shopping, but there’s a lot to be said for a little fiscal discipline. If you want to be able to borrow as little money as possible, create a budget and stick to it. There’s really not a lot more to it than that. But don’t run things so lean that you don’t get to enjoy your time at college, because you can never get it back.
Treat yourself at the end of the month so you have something to look forward to
Treating yourself is a great way to reward yourself for sticking to something that, in a perfect world, you’d rather not have to do. These little rewards are a great way to constrain your impulse to treat yourself every single day, and they really do work. By having something to look forward to, you’ll have the motivation needed to put off buying those new jeans or round of beers.
Focus on your studies, not your social life
Your degree is what has brought you to campus, not the social life. It’s certainly a bonus to be immersed in the college culture, and you should definitely enjoy it. That said, it’s your degree that’s going to pay your bills once you leave and are faced with the prospect of paying back the money you had to borrow to study for it in the first place. Make your degree your main focus, and you’ll find that you will really start to enjoy your major and minor.
Remember that good grades earn you later in life
Good grades are what pay the bills, and the better they are, the more likely you are to be able to land your dream job straight off the bat. Focus on the long-term picture, and visualize where you want to get to. That way you’ll be able to push yourself that little bit harder each and every day so that you get closer to where you want to be. Over the course of your 3-year degree, it will add up to a substantially better post-graduate life and standard of living.
Keep an eye on the interest payments
Paying off your loan faster is a great way to reduce the amount of interest you’re going to pay over your lifetime. If you want to be able to do that, then use the interest as your motivator. It’s an expensive business when you have to pay someone significantly more than you borrowed, so start saving and reduce the amount of interest you have to pay.
Avoid late fees, fines, and additional interest
The problem with late fees and additional interest is that they can quickly spiral out of control. If you want to be able to keep a tight grip on your finances, you need to ensure that you’re always aware of the payment dates and minimum balances you need to clear. It’s not the most fun thing to do, but it will make things a lot easier for you in the long run.
Set up a payment schedule, and always stay 1 month ahead
Payment schedules are the way you stay on top of that last point, so make sure you set one up. If you really want to manage your student loans, then aim to always have your money one month ahead of time. That way you’re not going down to the wire at the end of each month, which will make the first few years of working life that little bit less stressful.
Get expert advice every step of the way
If you want expert advice, get yourself over to a respected student loan service center. It’s a great chance to be able to ask the people in the industry what you should do to best manage your student loans. All you need to do then is apply the advice they give you, and start to reap the rewards.
House shares will keep your costs down
Living with housemates at college is a great way to keep your costs down. As well as meaning you won’t have to borrow anywhere as near as money as you would if you decided to rent an apartment downtown, it will also immerse you in an active world of socializing without ever having to leave your house. Ideal if you want to be able to enjoy every second of campus life, without always having to go out and eat into your student loan to do it.
Meal prep and buy in bulk whenever possible
Food will probably be your biggest expense after rent, so put some thought into how you’re going to make it cheap and affordable. It’s also fun to grab a burger when you’re out, but try and keep those impulse buys to a minimum. Meal prepping and buying your food in bulk is a great way to keep the costs down, and if you focus on healthy whole food recipes then you’ll be able to cut the costs without cutting quality.
Not only will the food taste great, but it will also enable you to get the most out of your studies as your concentration and energy levels will be sky high.
Managing your student loans might seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s actually something you can start to do whilst you’re still in college. Keep the spending to a minimum, and then when you graduate stay on top of the repayments. That way you’ll have a smaller loan that you can pay off much faster. Ideal if you want to move onto the next stage of your life without feeling the financial burden of large interest payments every single month.
Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor at Topwritersreview. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in psychological science. Her passion is traveling and finding ways to enrich students’ learning experience.