Student loan debt is something on most students minds from the second they enter college until they completely pay it off many, many years down the road. To help mitigate some of the loan anxiety and get ahead the best you can, start managing your loans well before they are due. Not sure where to start? Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Use the grace period
Take advantage of the six month grace period between the time you graduate and when you have to start paying those pesky loans back. Get ahead of the game by understanding your loan, knowing when and how much your payments are, and by making early payments. If you can’t make early payments, put that money aside and at the end of six months, you’ll have a solid down payment ready.
Sign up for auto payments
Never miss a payment by signing up for auto payments. You set the date, how much, and what account the money comes from. After that, you set and forget it. The money will come out of your account each month automatically. It’s one less thing to worry about. Some lenders also provide a small interest break for paperless and auto payment users. Check with your lender to see if you are taking advantage of any or all incentives like this.
Tackle higher interest loans first
Paying down your higher interest loans will make your whole effort feel much less like an uphill battle. Loans with high interest rates keep taking chunks of money back onto your debt. It’s beyond infuriating, but by committing to paying off these loans first, the interest won’t seem all that bad after a while.
Browse repayment options
Know what repayment options you are entitled to. Most lenders have at least a few option to explore. There is a graduated repayment option that allows you to pay lower payments not that gradually increase over time. There are also income-based repayment options. If you are having a hard time making enough money you can submit your income to receive a reevaluated repayment amount.
Budget your money
In order to pay off all your living expenses, bills, and student loan debt, you’ll need a budget. Create a budget to help you curb your spending and track where your money is coming and going. A budget will also help you understand how to make your money work best for you in any given situation.
Student loan debt will be with you for a long while, but there are ways to make it work with your situation rather than against it. By knowing what your options are, you’ll make better choices and pay off your debt sooner than expected.