We have a national emergency called STUDENT LOAN DEBT and we’re drowning in it. The reality is most people reading this post are probably one of the 44.2 million Americans struggling with student loan debt. It’s the curse that keeps on giving. Student loan debt affects our ability to be totally independent from parents and roommates, it affects our ability to pursue our passions like travel, and it affects our ability to save for life events like a wedding, buying a house or retirement. Every extra month we pay our student loans is one more month without the freedom to do what we want, when we want, how we want. The good news is that most people actually have more control over their repayment process than they’re led to believe... and they can get it with these five tips.
1. They don’t allow the student loan servicer to set the tone for their repayment plan. They honor their agreement but they don't let them control their outcome.
If you repay your student loans exactly how your payment schedule is set up, you’ll end up paying for the full duration of the loan and pay all of the accrued interest as well. Bad news for you and good news for the loan servicer. That’s why you need to set the tone for how you handle your loan repayment based on your individual situation
2. They get clear on the details of their student loans i.e. interest rates, payment structure, amortization schedule
“His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see” boxing legend Muhammad Ali was famously quoted saying. The same concept applies to your student loans. Blindly pressing “pay amount” on your account without knowing how the payment is calculated is the surest bet to pay your student loans for as long as possible with all of the interest fees.
3. They know and understand their repayment options
You would never buy a car without thinking about the implications of a particular type right? If you lived in a congested city with only street parking, it wouldn’t make sense to buy the largest SUV you could find. And if you lived in a rural town without paved roads, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a corvette to go off-roading in. That’s why you need to know and understand your loan repayment options, create a pros and cons list for each one, and make an informed decision about the strategy that makes sense for you.
4. They capture an accurate snapshot of their larger financial picture
The consequences of carrying student loan debt doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Getting an accurate snapshot of your entire financial picture is key to financial decision-making and should be your first step before hunkering down with a loan repayment strategy. You’ve got to know how much money you have coming in and from where, and how much money you have going out and to where. Make adjustments as necessary.
5. They set short and long-term goals and identify the resources needed to achieve them
Nothing gets done correctly without clear cut goals. And no, I don’t mean goals in your head. I mean goals written down that spell out what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, how you’re going to achieve it, and how you’ll know when it’s achieved. What this does is lay out a pathway to achievement by establishing a due date, creating action steps in your plan and identifying gaps in resources that require filling.
These five tips combined create a solid foundation for a loan repayment plan that works for you, not just the loan servicer. To summarize, you have to get clear on the facts, your objectives, your timeline and establish a plan to overcome roadblocks.
Was this overview of how to make a student loan repayment plan helpful? How do you plan on tackling your student loans after reading this? Looking forward to reading your comments and questions!
Marlon is a licensed financial advisor at weshfinancial.com and is known as "The Travel Nurse Financial Advisor". Marlon specializes in helping travel nurses crush their financial goals by helping them optimize taxes, accelerate retirement savings, and maximize their investments.