Have you ever wondered how some college graduates have paid off their student loans, but you are still struggling to make a dent in yours? Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Many students find it difficult to cover everyday living expenses and chip away at their student loan debt, too. I know it doesn’t seem like your student loan payments will ever end, but there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. How quickly you reach that light depends on you. Here are five ways you can pay down your student loan debt quicker and be that much closer to making your last payment ever!
1. Sell Your Stuff
I’m sure you have accumulated tons of things over the years, including college t-shirts, video games and other things you may no longer need or use. Don’t take up valuable space in your closets or hide them away in storage bins; sell that stuff for cold hard cash. You can host a weekend yard sale, place the items on Craigslist or eBay, or take them to local consignment shops. If you have a serious amount of clothes and an iPhone, you might also want to check out the new app called poshmark. Not only will you de-clutter your life, but also generate some extra cash to help pay down your student loans.
2. Pick Up a Side Job or Two
If you don’t have a significant other or family obligations, use your extra time to bring in some extra cash. It doesn’t have to be a traditional part-time job, like working at McDonald’s; there are endless possibilities for earning a little side money. Do you have a special talent or skill? Hire yourself out or try freelancing. You can find opportunities on sites like Elance, oDesk or Fiverr for starters. Offer private music lessons or become a private tutor. Pick up some local babysitting or pet sitting jobs. Become a mystery shopper, or consider participating in a clinical research study. If you love taking pictures, offer your services for wedding, birthday parties or local events. Along the way, you’ll be padding your résumé and making new connections as your student loan balance starts to decline.
3. Find a Job That Helps Pay Off Your Loan
If you have a bachelor’s degree and a desire to help others, consider looking into Teach for America. Once accepted into the program, you’ll be placed in low-income area within the United States, teaching children from kindergarten to 12th grade. In addition to your salary, you’ll also be eligible to receive up to $5,550 per year to repay your qualified student loans. You may receive up to $11,100 total during your tenure. During your employment, you may also have your loans placed in forbearance and the interest will be paid by the organization. If teaching isn’t your thing, you can also earn up to $5,645 (the current Pell Grant amount) for giving a year of volunteer service through AmeriCorps, or have up to 70 percent of your Perkins Loan forgiven by joining the Peace Corps. It may not sound glamorous, but these jobs will help you pay down your debt while giving back to others.
4. Work Abroad
Did you know that English speaking teachers are in high demand overseas? You don’t even need to have a teaching degree, just a bachelor’s in any subject and the willingness to work for at least a year. There are many benefits to taking a position overseas, too. You won’t have to pay federal taxes (up to $96,000) and you’ll get to explore another culture. Another benefit could be ditching your car. Most overseas locations have great public transportation systems, so you can sell your vehicle and take the money you would have spent on gas, insurance and maintenance to help pay off your student loans. Check out tefl.com or InterExchange.org, if you are interested in seeing what is available.
5. Live Frugally
There’s a common theme among the articles about students who have paid off their student loans in record time – they all lived very frugally. Sit down and take inventory of where you spend your money every month. You may be surprised to see how much is going towards eating out, entertainment or other unnecessary items. A quick and easy way to bump up the amount you send to your loan servicer each month is to reduce your expenses. Start with simple things like your cable bill (Netflix is much cheaper) and cell phone plan (keep it basic!). Next, stop eating out for at least six months, if not longer. Force yourself to cook meals at home and bring a lunch to work. When you go shopping for your food, look for weekly sales and BOGO (buy one, get one) deals, and don’t forget to use coupons! If you really want to save some money, consider bringing in a roommate or two, or possibly moving back in with your parents for a while. One student even spent a year surfing from couch to couch at various friend’s and relative’s homes to save money. If you need clothing for an interview, check out the local thrift stores. Never pay full price for anything.
It may take some time to get used to working extra hours or cutting back on your expenditures, but just think how satisfying it will be when you make your last student loan payment.