One of the biggest concerns for graduates, aside from finding a good job, is making their student loan repayments. Educational institutions often don’t provide financial counselling, and repayment options make it hard to achieve financial independence.
As tough as things may seem, it is important that you keep up with your payments to avoid penalties. Here are some useful tips to stay on top of your student loan debt:
- Pay the interest while in school
Student loans start accumulating interest the instant you take them out. One of the best ways to keep the loan manageable is by paying the interest while in school. It is a small amount that you can manage, and will ensure that you only owe the principal when you graduate.
- Organise your records
Keeping your statements, receipts, and other paperwork organised is a great way to keep track of your expenses and restructure your budget to avoid falling behind on payments.
- Stick to your budget
Create a monthly budget to avoid impulse purchases that may throw your finances off balance. Based on your monthly income, prepare a list of monthly expenses and leave some savings.
- Lower your principal
If you want to finish paying your student loan sooner rather than later, you can save less and allocate a bigger chunk of your income towards paying the principal amount. When you repay a loan, the amount covers any late fees first, then interest, and finally the principal. If you can afford to pay more than the required monthly payment, you can lower your principal, which will in turn reduce future interest payments.
Make sure to you inform your lender that any amount paid on top of the monthly balance should be aimed at clearing the principal balance.
- Sign up for automatic monthly payments
If you have trouble sticking to your budget, you should consider getting the payments deducted from your account automatically. Create a bill that automatically deducts a certain amount on a specific day of the month. This can be particularly important for people who keep forgetting to make the payments manually.
Final tip: Consolidate your loan
If you are making multiple monthly repayments at high interest rates, you should consider credit consolidation to lower the cumulative interest rate. This will allow you to pay off the loans faster and for the least possible amount.