Hey Taylor: Do you have any recommendations for easing the burden of student loan debt? I’m working steadily and making my payments on time, but I’m wondering if there’s a better approach than losing money every month for the next 30 years. — Sharon
Hey Sharon: I’ve helped a lot of people fight through student loan debt, and there are more options than you might think. In addition to making regular payments, there are a few other tactics you can try.
1. Expedite your payments. If you feel comfortable with your finances, you can always tighten your belt a little more and try to pay the loans off faster. At first, it will feel like you can’t possibly afford to put more toward debt, but if you try cutting back on other expenses for a couple of months, there’s a good chance those habits will stick and you’ll save loads of money in the long run. Remember that every dollar you pay above the minimum saves you interest and reduces the lifespan of that debt. If you make repayment your primary objective, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you can actually afford each month.
2. Refinance. Imagine paying the same amount each month and having the total balance go down even faster. That’s exactly what happens if you consolidate your loans with a good refinancing company. If your interest rate is 4.5% (which isn’t all that high), you might still be able to lower that by a full point. Assuming you have good credit, any number of student loan consolidation companies will be happy to assume your debt and give you better terms than whatever you have at present. If you don’t know where to start, check out Splash Financial. It’s a small company that genuinely works to help people get out from under their debt so they can move on with their careers. You can also find out what type of rate you’d get in just a few minutes on the Splash Financial website.
3. Stay the course. This might not be exactly what you want to hear, but there’s definitely a world in which you should keep paying the minimum on your loans while shoring up other aspects of your finances. If you have smaller credit card balances with higher interest rates, make sure to get that debt off the books. If you don’t have an emergency fund, focus on building that safety net so you can comfortably pay off your loans without potentially forcing yourself to take on more debt. While student debt looks awful on paper, you might benefit from focusing your efforts elsewhere before trying to pay down the biggest balances.
Hopefully this gives you a little direction, Sharon. If you’re managing to make payments and work a job you like, take a moment to recognize that your debt isn’t holding you back too much. Do what you can to improve the situation and keep enjoying life!
Disclosure: Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. To submit a question to be answered in this column, please send it via email to Question@GoFarWithKovar.com, or via USPS to Taylor Kovar, 415 S 1st St, Suite 300, Lufkin, TX 75901.
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