How To Live With Student Loans & Pay Them Off Faster

Hello my name is.

I have major student loan regret.  I’m not going to lie, looking back, I was not well educated on how loans worked.  I didn’t understand the financial repercussions of signing on for those loans.  In my mind, they were a necessary part of getting an education. I was a person that needed a lot of student loan debt help.

Actually, everyone was getting loans, so to me it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I didn’t understand how much I had until graduated undergrad with about $20K in loans.  At the time, that seamed like a behemoth amount.  But it would only grow as I went off and took a risk going to law school for 1 year. By the end of that year, I finished with 49K worth of loans.

Still, I was in denial of how much in loans I owed.  I paid off a little here and there and sat on some unused loan money for a few years, while I was trying to build a safety net of emergency funds.

From the age of 18-24, I was not smart with money.

From 2011-2014, I was making small $200-$400 payments, it wasn’t until 2015 I realized I couldn’t forebear any longer and made my mind up to commit to the 10 year payment plan.  By that time, my debt had ballooned to nearly $60K. Mind you, the student loan payment for a 10 year payment plan for the average overall student loan of $25K is $280.

Until now I’m still paying a minimum of $871 towards my principle and interest.  But I’m working towards pushing and paying off my loans in bulk.  Earlier this year I paid off a $10K loan in full!

I’m lucky, I’m at $24K-25K in remaining debt, down more than half after deciding to get real about my student loan debt.  And in 3 more years, if not two, it will be completely gone.

Here are some tips to live with student loan debt.  Sometimes it’s inevitable to have to take out loans but we can at least minimize the shortfalls and reduce college debt.

  1. Pay Off Your Loans While You’re In School:

I had these stupid minimum wage jobs that brought in a couple hundred here and there. If I put at least 150 a month towards my loans, starting day 1, do you know how much of a dent that would have made in principle and future interest?  Whoosh, I don’t even want to think about it. Probably closer to 10K but I’m here not to regret and feel sorry for myself but to hopefully wake up a few other people who are still in dreamland about their loans!

2. Stop pretending you’re loans aren’t that bad.

Whether you have $1000 in loans or $200K in loans, you need to face them as soon as you’re financially able to.  Make a plan on how to pay or at least minimize your loans.

My sister is a great example of understanding how deep of shit she was in.  She went to two Ivy League Schools, Cornell for Undergrad and Columbia for Grad.  She was a smarty pants in many ways, and got a practical degree in engineering.  Still, her $70K salary doesn’t seem like enough to pay off her $125K in student loans from 6 years of Ivy education.

She was smart in the sense she worked during those years and put whatever she could working paid internships and hosting at restaurants towards her loans.  She saved herself thousands by doing that.

Though she makes a decent salary, she still lives below her means and drops 2K a month towards her loans.  That bad boy is going to be paid off in 5-6 years.  Considering the size of the loan, that’s incredible!

3. For Godsake, go to college for something practical!

I had a friend that started for speech pathology in college and spent two years pursuing that. Then she changed direction and decided to do performing arts, even though our school wasn’t a performing arts school.  She then transferred to another private college, lived on their Manhattan campus and finished her schooling there.  She finished with a liberal arts degree, because the other school she transferred to wasn’t a performing arts school either.

She worked a few years, then decided to go back to school for teaching.  She went back for another 3 years of undergrad or grad and is finally a teacher.

But OMG she is in too much debt.  Nearly $200K worth of debt with only a $50K salary?  Like how was this ever going to work for her? What was she aiming to do with all these changes and all these expenditures?

My friend is just one gleaming example of all the people I know who weren’t practical in choosing or at least funding their degrees.  I have nothing against less practical degrees like art, liberal arts, and philosophy.  But did she really need to spend $200K to get that?  Wouldn’t it have been better for her to just go to a community college first and then transfer?

I’m not perfect and I’m one of those people who didn’t think about the practical nature of my degree, Legal Studies.  But I made the most of it and got my real estate license through the course I took..  I realized that I couldn’t keep running from the hardness of finding a path and managed to carve one out through an opportunity provided from my education.

4. Live Frugally to Save Even Move Towards Loans

For me living very frugally felt like punishment.

“I can’t afford certain things because I made this bad choice and collected all these loans.”

Still to this day, I struggle with frugal living BUT you can take small steps to at least spend your money wiser.

I’ve stopped buying coffee outside like at Starbucks or DD. $1.95 3X a week for a cup of coffee adds up.  Over a year, that’s exactly $304 a year just on coffee.  With that money, you can buy a $30 coffee maker and 2 years worth of coffee grinds!  It just didn’t make sense.

I stopped buying frivolous things like random makeup and clothes to build a wardrobe that was already big enough.  I stopped going out to drinks on every occasion.  My socializing cut back a little bit, which kind of sucked.  But I invested in spending time with people who didn’t need to spend money to have fun, like my parents and sisters.

Cutting the non essentials was a hard change, but putting it towards my student loans was liberating.

5. Work a side hustle

I’ve never had a chance to tackle this but I would encourage this in anyone who has the free time or talent.

Taking on a 2nd job like Uber or working at the pizza place down the street can definitely help you.

Imagine taking on a part time holiday position on top of your 9-5 full time job.  If you earn an additional $600 a month, you can put all of that towards your loans on top of the payments you usually make.

This can help you make a nice dent in your loans and help you pay off your loans faster. I’ve heard of people paying off their large five figure loans in just a few years with this method.  Combine that with all the other methods we just discussed and that could be the way out of debt.

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Overall, I hope this post has helped you to realize that even though we had to take these godforsaken loans to get ahead, there’s no reason why these loans should keep us behind financially.

Wishing you all prosperity and financial wellness 🙂

 

 

Review: “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

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I have a confession to make.  I am in debt.  I am in debt up to my eyeballs.  At this point I have almost 50K in student loans.  Me and my husband are also wasteful spenders.  We kind of already know this but also ignore it.  You name it, we spend on drinking, restaurants, unnecessary bullsh*t that we don’t need.  We have no real money because of our debt. So I picked up “The Total Money Makeover” By Dave Ramsey. I decided to make a review and summary on the financial advice that he gave.

So I picked up “The Total Money Makeover” because I love the topic of money and managing my money and wanted to see if maybe there was a better way to go about it. We’ll let me just tell you, at first I was skeptical some of the changes he suggested, like selling your car or getting rid of your car lease in exchange for a used fully paid car.  It seemed severe.  But I did the math and Dave’s formula for money success made sense! This review is going to cover exactly how Dave Ramsey did that.  And maybe it isn’t the fastest way, its likely the easiest and clearest way for the Average American.  Total Money Makeover is such a great book to read for financial literacy.

Key Highlights In This Review:

Debt Free- means no payments either for student loans/ car payments/ credit card etc.  Most people have this but Dave says “Imagine you didn’t have to pay those payments, how that would free up your income.”  In my opinion, he has a pretty decent though challenging system for clearing these debts.

Budget- goes into some detail about eliminating wasteful spending and avoiding “Keeping Up With The Joneses” mentality.  Me and Hubby don’t really need to be going to the fancy restaurant every week and taking Snapchat pics titled “Love BAE!”  Yes, I indulge in that behavior.  I am one of those people.  Wasteful spending is probably the first place you can tackle any money issues.

Emergency Fund- Most people rely on credit cards if a large emergency were to pop up.  If a spouse loses a job or a major medical bill/car bill hits you unexpectedly.  My dad had always told me that you should have at least 6 months savings for this reason, so I knew this was good advice when I read it.

Saving for Retirement/Debt Free/Home Buying and Beyond-Dave’s math makes sense.  Once you no longer have to pay off debt, that frees up your income A LOT.  I actually haven’t gotten to this point yet but it all seems very solid.  It would be really nice to have the freedom to plan your retirement and maybe even save to pay your house upfront!  

Overall, “The Total Money Makeover” is recommended for others to get a grasp on their finances.  At the very least it should assist you with a plan to get out of debt. 

 “The Total Money Makeover did have some limitations.  

It’s really not going to be of any use unless you are willing to downsize/ change your lifestyle/ commit several years of your life to debt reduction/ if your spouse had a spending or gambling problem. 

I also thought that the ending was really rushed in terms of getting to major wealth.   Getting to the point of living off investments and no debts would require tremendous sacrifice for 15-20 years.  The last chapters doesn’t explain distribution of wealth well enough to feel obtainable. 

One last gripe in this review are that the stories that were used to support his theories and ideas.  He used about 30 stories.  I hope this isn’t petty, but there wasn’t enough minority representation.  It was mainly middle class White Americans with average or above average income who had  fallen into bad debt from their own misspending.   I’m Latina/Asian mix and the only representation of my race was a single Latina mom who had 2 kids:  Really?!  Come on, Latinos could have been better represented.  Also the stories with the single income family with homemakers also made me cringe, that’s also unrepresentative of a majority of families now. 

But overall it’s a great step towards financial planning as well as financial responsibility.  It’s a great book to read for those just starting to get a grasp on their spending.

So there you have it, after reading this book, I was able to talk to my husband put a budget together and make a solid plan for knocking out that 50K student loan in 1 year as opposed to 5.  This was better than student loan refinancing that would still take 3 year at at least 3%.  I also realized that the mutual fund I had was useless if I was spending 6% interest a year on a 50K loan.  Cashing out and being broke is better than  stringing myself along with debt. Will keep you guys updated on my progress.  

If any of you have read this book, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Let me know what you think about my review!  

tmmo_new

 

 

Check out my other book reviews!

Motivational Book Club: The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter, by Meg Jay
Motivational Book Club: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson
Motivational Book Club: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
My Favorite Dating Book: Why Men Love Bitches