Friday, November 24th, 2017

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4 Smart Ways to Budget For Student Loan Payments

I once worked with a person who would complain to me about her student loans and how she could barely live off of what she was being paid. I sympathized with her, as I knew she sincerely did struggle with money and life had dealt her a bad hand in many ways. However, I would often run into her at the grocery store buying giant boxes of beer and wine, and she would exclaim to me that she was going camping. Then as the work week started again she would complain about money, with no thought to the fact that she spent it on alcohol and an out of town road trip.

I’m not saying those things are bad in themselves, in fact I enjoy drinking and camping. But the disconnect in her brain between her financial situation and how often she spent her money this way shocked me. If you want to pay off your student loans, you have to start by making an effort to do it. A big part of that is budgeting correctly, which isn’t as hard to start doing as you think.

Lay Off The Vices

Like my friend with the alcohol, or me with eating out, or me with alcohol (I’m just being honest!), there are things we rely on to make life easier and will happily pay for that we don’t actually need. Last night I had already eaten dinner, and I still went to Taco Bell, for instance, when I definitely need to use my money elsewhere.

Part of budgeting is removing unnecessary purchases. I find that a lot unnecessary things are our worst vices, and we could do a lot for our lives by not relying on them so heavily. But this is not always the case. If you’re really struggling with your loans, you should just ask myself, what do I need and what don’t I? What can I afford to give up, and what would be good for me to give up?

Add It To Your List of Monthly Bills

To prioritize your student loans, make them more of a normalcy than an extra hassle. You have to pay the rest of your bills every month, so your student loan shouldn’t be viewed any different. I’ve spent time before living in the mindset that debt is an “extra” expense, when it should have been viewed as a primary and normal one. What resulted was me procrastinating paying them off because there was always more time, or I just “didn’t have the money,” but I learned that was just an excuse to spend my money unwisely.

So I’ve learned that if I pay my loans with my other bills, which is typically as soon as I possibly can, they get paid off faster and give me less stress. If you’re anything like me, this might be a method to consider. Now of course, how much you pay per payment depends on how much you owe and how much you already pay for your bills. Try this loan calculator to determine your monthly payments for secured or unsecured loans. I promise that once you find a way to pay it on a more routine-basis, you’ll be on the right path.

Find Efficient Ways To Pay Less For Necessities

People seem to get into a rut where they believe necessities have to come in their most expensive form, but I’ve learned most people are just too lazy to look for better deals. Please keep in mind, I’m speaking of everyday things like food and gas.

You should know the cheapest place for gas in your town, and you should have a gas card there if they offer them for free. Keep your coupons and know which grocery stores sell things the cheapest. Be aware of what thrift stores sell the clothing you like, don’t don’t fall into a “hand-me-downs are bad” mindset – you can always get perfectly good and stylish clothing at a thrift store.

Keep a Positive Perspective and your Eyes on the Prize

Remember, this is temporary until your debt is paid off. If you can keep your eyes on the finish line, or at least the next check mark, it might feel less stressful and more like a step in the right direction. Loans will always be there —  after you deal with your student loans (and many times while you deal with them), you will have to deal with a property lien. Debt is usually continual for most of your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged.

Mindset and perspective are very important in any kind of personal development. If you have a defeatist attitude, you’re likely to not do as good at the thing you want to be good at. Once you move past a defeatist attitude however, you can start looking practically at each hurdle you have to overcome.

So remember, while student loans may feel like an uphill battle, with a little strategic planning and perseverance you can make it to the top. There are things that you can do to alleviate the struggle. Be on the lookout for them, whether it’s getting healthy, spending less, or taking more time to yourself. At the end of the day it will be worth it!

Budget for Loan Payments got you beat? Tell me more about it in the comments.

About Daniel Matthews

Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer who specializes in finance, tech, business, and current events. You can find him on Twitter.
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