Starting The Dreaded Student Loan Journey

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Paying down your student loans? Yeah, us too.

College? Awesome. Student loans? Absolutely not.

I have student loans. And I hate student loans. I hate paying them every month and only watching the principal balance drop minutely. It’s a problem a lot of people have and one that is not going to be fixed anytime soon. What we’re here to discuss is how you, as a Modern Piggy Bank reader, can pay them down as quickly and as painlessly as possible. But to really understand student debt and paying them back, we’re first going to dive into some facts about it.

If you read my article on budgets, you’ll notice that I consider student loans a major category and a main part of my overall budget. And yet that’s really not enough. Sure, I make the minimum payment every month but do I really want to be in a mountain of debt forever? Of course not! I, like you, want to be debt free. Did you know according to Forbes and Credit Suisse if you have $10 in your pocket and zero debt you are richer than 15%-25% of Americans respectively.

“If you’ve no debts and have $10 in your pocket you have more wealth than 25% of Americans. More than 25% of Americans have collectively that is.”

That’s actually astonishing. So if I go up to my 18 year old cousin and hand him a $20 bill he is now in the top 75% of American households. Wake up people! Credit is great, debt can be great. Bad debt is not great. Use it wisely.

And education debt is the United States is massive and current trends only show it increasing. According to Forbes which cites MakeLemonade student loan debt in the US has reached $1.5 trillion. If you get a free minute and want to blow your mind look at these pictures to see what $1trillion would look like in cash. Crazy stuff. And we have that and more just in student debt. Forget mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and anything else you can possibly purchase on credit, student loans dwarfs them all.

Don’t go into $100,000 of debt for a $40,000 job. -Some Random NYC subway advertisement

For example purposes, Jeff Bezos (CEO and Founder of Amazon and recently anointed richest man alive) has approximately $150billion. THAT WOULD NOT EVEN MAKE A DENT IN TOTAL US STUDENT LOAN DEBT. Nor would I want Mr. Bezos to waste his money on attempting to eradicate student debt. That would just be stupid.

But let’s face it, student loan debt is a huge issue. And I’m not talking about the overall student loan debt now, I’m talking about your personal student loans that you took out to go to college.

I’ll be honest, I never really thought about my loans until senior year. I would go to school, have a great year, and then just sign whatever the school sent me for my loans and whatever my parents put in front of me. I thought they knew what they were doing. And then senior year I logged onto my account and saw the debt I was truly in.

Sure, I had known about it in the back of my mind that this debt was piling up but it wasn’t real. It was an idea floating on the outskirts of my thoughts. Let me be the first to tell you that it becomes real, real fast.

So now I’m here, staring into what seems like an insurmountable abyss of debt and just trying to figure out how to climb out of the whole that so many Americans find ourselves in. But I have a plan.

I mentioned before that I had a goal to live off one paycheck a month and save/invest the other one entirely. Unfortunately besides building a cash reserve for emergency purposes I don’t plan on saving or investing much beyond some meager contributions to a Roth IRA. And that’s because most of my excess money will be going towards student loans. I want that debt out of my life forever. I want no debt, no credit card debt, no car payments, yes a mortgage but really nothing else besides that. Don’t buy something unless you can afford it is something I truly want to live by.

So how am I getting there? I’m allocating as much as I possibly can a month towards my loans without sacrificing my health, both mental and physical. I’m riding my bike to work so I can save money on gas and put that towards student loans (I highly recommend biking or walking to work if it’s feasible for you since it not only saves money but is healthier as well).

I’m making sure I’m only eating out when it’s truly a special occasion or a time to hang out with friends. Any money left over from my social life budget goes right into loans at the end of the month.

I’m also making payments more frequently than just the once a month timeline that everyone is on. If you get a gift or a bonus in the middle of the month, use it right then to pay down your debt. I know how tempting it is to go out and get the newest and coolest thing or that item you’ve been eyeing for a while but take the temptation away. Get your money and pay your loans right there and then. You can still make your normal payment but you’ll feel so much better about paying twice or more in a month.

Something that never made sense to me was buying name brand food. Now I completely understand buying a brand for certain items, they simply taste 100x better and I won’t blame anyone for choosing the name brand, but if it’s something simple go for the generic brand. This has led me to have excess money in my grocery budget every month and the extra, you guessed it, goes right into student loans.

There are so many plans you can utilize to pay off your student loans. I’ve already started looking at refinancing my loans and consolidating them to simplify my payments. I highly advise you all to do the same. If you need some guidance, feel free to reach out to us in the Contact Us page and we will personally get back to you and help you navigate. Also make sure to share this article so your friends know they aren’t alone and there are strategies to dealing with your student loans.

Remember, student loans isn’t a debt that will disappear for you tomorrow, but follow us and you may just pay them down quicker and be debt free sooner than you ever thought possible.

2 comments on “Starting The Dreaded Student Loan Journey”

  1. I find that this article tells people what they already know. Be smart about your money, don’t spend often, and when you do, make sure it’s worth it. So I have a few questions…
    1. What are your credentials? I would like to know how you gained this plethora of information.
    2. What is your current job status?
    3. Why did you buy a bike? How much did you spend on this bike? You must’ve had a car at some point so did you get rid of this car?
    4. Are pets considered “unnecessary spending”? As a post-grad student who has many loans what is your feeling on getting a dog during this time period?

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    1. We’re glad you asked. Personally, I agree with you, this is something people already know and there may not be anything revolutionary in this article but it’s my personal experience. Not everyone follows “what they already know”, especially when it comes to money. Getting to the rest of your questions:
      1. I’m a recent college grad that has student loans so my personal experience is my credential in writing about this, I’m personally living it.
      2. I’m currently employed at a tech startup as an associate.
      3. I bought a bike because I found that when I worked out the math, taking into consideration weather averages where I live, I found that I could save over $500 a year by biking to work instead of driving using the average gas price in my area as a gage. The bike cost me less than this so I determined it to be a worthwhile investment and that’s just year 1. Yes, I still have a car but it sits untouched for the majority of the week. If all goes well with biking I plan to sell my car and use the money to pay my loans down further.
      4. I’ll be extremely honest with you. Getting my dog in college was the result of an impulse decision and he has cost me way more money than anything I would have dreamed of. I don’t advise other college students who have loans (and even those that don’t) to get a dog because of the drain on your finances they can potentially be. That being said, now I make room in my budget for Apollo and wouldn’t trade him for the world.
      If you have any other concerns or comments feel free to head over to the Contact Us page and you’ll go directly to my personal email and we can speak further.

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