To prepare myself for writing this article on how to pay off student loan debt quickly, I read dozens of articles and watched tons of Youtube videos looking for a secret magic trick that every day people could use to get rid of student loan debt.
And guess what I found?
The reality is, there is no secret sauce or magic pill that will make your student loans go away easily. The secret to getting rid of student loan debt is the tried and true way to get rid of any debt.
To get rid of student loan debt quickly, you need to do at least one of the following:
- Get more money (increase income)
- Cut your expenses
Ideally, you want to do both. And you want to get aggressive at doing both.
With that said, the following are PROVEN ways you can pay off your student loans as quick as possible. At the very minimum, explore each option and see if it makes sense to apply it to your life.
These strategies work if you have $10,000 in student loans or $100,000+.
There’s no secret here. It really comes down to this:
Get your income up as high as possible. Get your expenses down as low as possible. And throw as much money as you can towards your student loans. This may mean you’re living the Mac and Cheese life for a few years. But then you’ll be student loan debt free, and should have a large chunk of monthly cashflow to buy other things, like a new home perhaps!
With that said, here are the 5 strategies:
Refinance your student loan
Refinancing your student loans means getting a new loan that pays off your current student loan(s). Why would you want to do this? You want to do this IF you can get a lower interest rate on your new loan, which can lower your monthly loan payment, and will save you money because you pay less interest (if you refinance onto the same loan term).
In other words, your new loan can have a different number of years before the loan is paid off, and it can have a different interest rate. You can change both. In the end, you can lower both your monthly payment amount towards your student loans and also pay less on interest costs.
Should you refinance your student loans? The answer may be YES if it saves you money or helps you with financial flexibility. Sometimes people will refinance their student loans to lower monthly bill payments because they can’t keep up with them. To get this “relief” they refinance to a longer term, which means they will pay more money for the loan in the end. But they benefit by receiving lower and more manageable monthly payments.
On the other hand, if you can get a better interest rate on your new refinanced loan compared to your current student loan(s), strongly consider refinancing. Because this can very likely mean you will not only lower loan repayments today, you will pay less money over the life of your student loan repayment. You can qualify for a better lower cost loan through refinancing if your credit score has improved since you first took out your student loans.
LendKey is a reputable and popular student loan refinance network where they match you up with lenders who will refinance your loan for the lowest interest rate possible. You can learn more about that by clicking here.
Dramatically cut your expenses
Sit down and look at everything you spend money on. Identify all the expenses (things that cost you money) that you don’t need and stop spending money on these things.
For any items that are “essential’ like rent, car payment, health insurance, cell phone bill, etc, see if you can reduce the cost of these essential expenses. For example, can you rent a cheaper place? Can you take the bus? Can you sell your vehicle and get a beater car to lower car payments?
For every other recurring expense like Netflix, cable tv, gym membership, magazine subscription, etc, do you REALLY need these things? You could probably get rid of at least half of them.
Cutting useless expenses, and lowering essential expenses can save you $500 or more every single month. Use this money to pay back your student loans.
If this stuff makes your head hurt, don’t sweat it. It’s really as simple as writing down EVERYTHING you spend money on. And making a decision if just how much you need this in your life. Can you stop spending money on it all together? Is there a cheaper alternative? Make a goal of what you want to do with each item and DO IT!
Create a budget (and stick to it)
Related to above, creating a budget means figuring out how much money you have coming in every month and how much money is going out every month. From here, you can create a budget that allows you to spend a certain amount of money on each type of expense, and the rest of your money will go towards your student loans.
For example, if you make $3000 every month, you can set aside $500 for bills, $500 for leisure things like Starbucks, movies, and eating out, and $2000 will be used to pay back your student loans.
It’s called a “budget” because you need to stick to it. It means when you decide you will only spend $500 a month on every day costs, it means you will ONLY spend $500 on these things.
You will find that once you create a budget, your brain will start thinking about how to live life while sticking within this budget. You will start thinking about if you really need your Starbucks every morning, or if you can make your own coffee. You’ll think twice about going out to drink Friday night because “that’s just what you’ve been doing every Friday night.” Now that you only have $500 for these things, you’ll think more carefully about eating out, watching a $20 IMAX movie, or subscribing to that magazine.
A budget is very powerful. It doesn’t need to be hard or complicated. They can be done in different ways, but the main thing is to ALLOCATE a certain amount of dollars to each type of expense. To keep it simple, create a budget for essential expenses, non essential expenses, and every other dollar will go towards paying back your student loans.
There will be sacrifice. But that’s the cost of paying down student loans as quick as humanly possible. A budget will keep you on track. Make sure you create one. Nothing needs to be fancy. A pen and paper will do.
Start a side business (side hustle)
In my mind, the MOST important thing you can do to pay back student loans quickly is to increase your income. If you just think about it for a second, if you could double or triple your income right now, how much faster could you pay back your student loans? The answer is A LOT faster.
There are many ways to increase your income. Your income may be increasing naturally as you get experience through your job. You can also increase your income by working overtime or getting a second/third job.
However, starting a side hustle or a side business is (in my mind) the better solution. Because a side business/hustle can add several thousand dollars extra to your bottom line each month. If not more. Working an extra job on the side has a limit. It’s a guaranteed way to increase income, but generally speaking, a slower way.
Starting a business that can earn you let’s say an extra $3000 every month 1-2 years from now will dramatically help you pay back those student loans A LOT faster. In my mind, this is the way you should go if you want to be debt free a lot quicker.
The biggest thing on your mind is probably WHAT to do to increase your income a lot. An online business is that you can do from home or a coffee shop is incredible and what I recommend. For example, starting a blog is a great idea to make money.
Work more (second or third job)
On the flip side of starting your own side hustle or business, you can also take on more overtime at work if that’s available, or seek a second or third job. Basically, find any way possible to work more and throw all of those extra hours you spend working towards your loan repayment. This will probably be a slow grind for most of you because it’s likely your student loans are pretty high. But that’s what it takes. That’s the price that is paid to get your education. You hustle like crazy until is paid off. And then you “get your life back” so to speak. Working more is a slower way yet more secure way to pay back loans. But if you’re wanting the fastest way, working more probably isn’t it. Starting a side business that can make a few thousand dollars a month is likely the better answer for you.