A Game of Strategy: 3 Tips for Conquering Student Loan Debt

 Photo source:  Mail & Guardian

Photo source: Mail & Guardian

Bayo's fellowship work with Financial Beginnings Oregon is focused on financial literacy education for young people. The organization's programs that Bayo has been involved with introduce the world of finance and explore personal buying decisions and accumulating wealth with K-12 students. 


According to, businessman and financial broadcaster, Dave Ramsey, student loan debt will be the single biggest burden for people of the Millennial generation. This was that comment that has consistently rang in my ears during my financial literacy fellowship at Financial Beginnings. Our twenties are a time of exploration, understanding, failing, succeeding and laying our foundation for adulthood. Nevertheless, a great amount of us are tasked with the challenge of figuring out how to conquer our student loan debt with no prior financial education. Well, never fear! All is not lost and we still have the opportunity to live the rich and fulfilling lives that we desire. Below are 3 ways to move more effectively and bury your student loan debt.    

Organize yourself

Sit down with your student loan breakdown. Whomever your provider is - make sure to access your account on the website to get a clear look of your current standing. An excel spreadsheet can help you to organize some of your specifics. You will want to include total debt amount, interest rate type, interest rate amount, type student loan(s) and your due date. All of this can be accessed online or by a phone call to your loan service provider. Be sure to prioritize loans with higher interest payments since they will compound much more quickly.

Another simple fix is enrolling in autopay. Not only will you receive a 0.25 percent discount on your interest (which will add up), but you also eliminate the mistake of missing a payment and negatively affecting your credit or accruing penalties. Moreover, with your federal student loans examine your options with income driven repayment plans that provide an opportunity to pay 10 to 20 percent of your disposable income. Lastly, for those who it applies to, it may behoove you to look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). This program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. If your industry is eligible, it can save you a lot of money in the long run.  

Pay more than the minimum

By paying a bit more than the minimum payment, you will save more on your interest over time, shortening the lifespan and total amount of your loan. The majority of student loans don’t have prepayment fees or penalties so paying them off quickly is better. Be diligent and make sure your extra payments are going toward your principal and not future payments. Here is a calculator that can help you calculate your prepayments.

Grow your financial education knowledge

Many of us know the importance of securing the bag but don't know how to manage its contents. Much of our financial progress is contingent on the information learned and practiced, however what does one do when they don't have the foundational knowledge? You can educate yourself, take personal finances classes at the local community college, seek out a money mentor, etc. A good income isn't the only component of financial wellness - how you spend your money is also a pivotal factor in your financial standing. As famous music producer Dr. Dre once said, “Anyone can be a millionaire, not everyone can stay one.” There were a few curse words mixed in there, but you get the point. Here are some resources that can help you start educating yourself towards financial freedom:

Listen to podcasts

Listening to personal finance podcasts are a great way to active your mind while preparing for your day in the morning. This also can assist you in being more strategic in paying your loans by learning different tips, tricks and resources. Some of my favorites right now are:

Read books

Reading books are making a come back and it’s not just a fashion statement. Below are some good reads that you can dive in and gain a wealth of information:

Young Money by Dasarte Yarnway

History of the Black Dollar by Angel Rich

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley (RIP)

 

Surf the Financial Web

When Netflix sends you a “wyd” text, stay focused. Carve out a piece of your time to read over some finance blogs and websites. Many of them share different side hustles, insights and financial trends that can help you reach your goals much sooner. Here are a few to get you started:

Financial Panther

Nerd Wallet

The Dumpsterdog blog

Money under 30

The Frugalwoods  

 

The journey to financial freedom is all but easy. However, organizing yourself, paying more than the minimum, and growing your financial knowledge base will greatly improve the likelihood of you reaching your goals much faster. Journey well, and keep it focused.