Look at what you spend money on right now. Do you eat a lot of fast food? Buy soda every time you go to the store? Get a manicure every weekend? Things like this can be easily cut down on and give you more money to work with. Instead of getting fast food make your own sandwich. Buy nail polish and give yourself a little girl time. Into video games? Return your old games that you don’t play anymore for store credit to get a new one. Little things that you don’t think about add up fast when you take a look at your wallet.
Do you have a job? If not, get one. Minimum wage may not sound like much fun but some money going towards your loan is better than no money. If you already have a job start looking at your paycheck. A good way to start breaking it down is like this: 30% towards rent and bills, 10% towards saving, 10% towards debt, 20% towards insurance and groceries, and the last 30% is yours to figure out what to do with it. Some put it towards emergencies; some put it all towards recreation. That’s an individual decision. Now, if you are fortunate enough to have parents who will let you live with them rent free you could put that rent money towards debt, making it 40% instead of 10%. That will get you a lot further. If you’re able to play around with percentages based on your lifestyle, go for it.
Since getting a job is easier said than done look for small ways to get money in between jobs or shifts. Have you been around kids a lot? Offer to babysit for someone you know or put an ad up in the grocery store. Do you like animals? Go to a pet sitting website to see if anyone is looking for someone to look after or walk their pets. Are you a good writer? Local newspapers need help editing small stories. Think outside the box and you may be surprised.
Even if you’re out of school, whether for good or just until your debt gets paid off, there are scholarships out there meant specifically to pay off debt. While they may be very specific based on major or purpose you may find yourself lucky. Some scholarships, such as those hosted by Brickfish, often don’t have any school related requirements. They may seem like a hassle but those essay scholarships may end up doing you a lot of good if you’re able to tweak and reuse that same essay for another scholarship down the road.
If you have graduated from school you’re in luck! There are lots of debt forgiveness programs out there for students willing to go off the beaten path. Teach for America asks that you teach in an inner city school in exchange for money towards your loan. Depending on if you’re a math or science teacher there are other similar offers out there. Didn’t get a teaching degree? AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are always looking for help. You can do just about anything in just about any country to earn money towards your loan. Some ways you can help through them is by tutoring, becoming a part of Habitat for Humanity, or working to empower women in countries where women are often neglected. This is a good route to take if you’re still looking for your life calling and want to explore a bit. There are more opportunities like these out there if you look hard enough. Going to your state government website or your major’s department board might reveal activities directly related to what you want to do with your life.
Probably the most important thing you can do to get that debt paid off is to actually PAY IT! Make a habit out of taking every paycheck directly to the bank so you can send in a payment as soon as possible. If your collector offers automatic payments and you’re afraid you’ll forget every now and then set up an account that part of your paycheck will go to every time so that once that automatic payment comes along it’ll go through without you having to worry about it. If you have a little extra cash because of working overtime or it was your birthday put that towards your debt too. It may not be fun right now but later on, when you want to buy that car or house, you won’t have to worry about your school loans hanging over your head and those extra payments will look good towards your credit score.
Loans can be daunting. But just beginning to cut out the debt a little bit at a time will get you off on the right start.