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Millionaire Money Habits

July 15th, 2011 at 9:29 am

How to Manage Your Student Loan Debt

Whether you attended an Ivy League school, a junior college, or one of the best online schools, you may have accrued some debt along the way in the form of student loans.  While this type of loan is often ideal for a student (because it comes with a low interest rate and doesn’t have to be paid back until you’re out of school), the amount of debt can rack up pretty quickly and take years to pay off after graduation.  Too bad the college rankings don’t include statistics on how quickly graduates are able to disburse their loans.  In any case, you’ve gotten your degree and you now find yourself saddled with what could be an overwhelming debt (and in a recession, no less).  So what can you do to manage this debt without declaring bankruptcy?  Here are a few ways to get on track with your payments.

  1. Take a job…any job.  Just because you’re having trouble finding a position that is commensurate with your new degree (in both field and salary) doesn’t mean you can’t work.  No job is too low if it helps you stay on top of your expenses, so even if you have to work at a clothing store in a mall, wait tables, or ask if your customers would like to up-size their order, at least you’re earning a paycheck while you continue to seek more lucrative employment.
  2. Create a budget.  If you don’t have a good idea of your cash flow (money in, money out) then you can’t hope to get a handle on your debt.  But creating a budget may not be as simple as it sounds.  If, for example, you spend a lot on credit, you may not realize how much money you’re going through each month.  So try saving your bills for several months and then averaging them to get a rough idea of what you’re spending.  From there you should be able to pare down some costs in order to begin paying down your debt.
  3. Stop needless spending.  You have certain necessities that you can’t really avoid paying for; rent, utilities, transportation, and food cannot be dropped from your budget (although you may find ways to reduce all of them).  But there are many other expenditures that you can do away with altogether.  You don’t need to eat out, frequently buy new clothes, or include HBO and Showtime in your cable package (or even have a cable package, for that matter).  These extras will come later; once you’re debts have been discharged.  For now you’ll have to forego unnecessary spending.
  4. Consolidate. If you carry multiple debts, then one good way to pay them off more quickly is to consolidate to a single, low-interest loan.  If you spread it out over an extended period of time, you may be able to lower your monthly payments and still pay less in the long run.  In addition, you can pay down the principle more quickly when you have extra cash as a way to pay less in interest.
  5. Speak to creditors.  If you are simply unable to meet the monthly payments for your student loans, despite working, creating a budget, and curbing unnecessary spending, then it may be time to speak to your creditors about setting up an alternate payment plan.  Most creditors are willing to work with anyone who wants to find a way to pay down debt.

Emma Martin writes for Bad Credit Loans where you can find loans for poor credit and browse through a selection of credit cards for bad credit.

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