How To Pay Down $25,000 Student Debt As A Young Working Professional
Disclaimer: I am not a financial expert or adviser. I am not telling you what to do. I recommend seeing a financial adviser and talk to them to help you if you are seeking professional financial help. I am only speaking from my experience and what worked for me, which may not work for you. Take it lightly. I am not legally responsible to advise you.
Debt: a scary word to many of us especially millennial’s. However, I have taken the initiative to educate myself with budgeting and learn how to be financially responsible. Being financially responsible is critical and important in today’s world. Such as paying more than the minimum payment and being financially literate. Studies show that many minorities are financially illiterate which really affects our lives and our financial future. People who are not financially literate will take on more debt, more likely to live paycheck to paycheck, be mentally and emotionally affected such as having mental disorders and more likely to live in poverty.
It’s time to be free. Being in debt feels like having a chain that you can’t get out of until you pay your dues.
Credit score is high?
Awesome-yay for us, right?
But do you know a credit score is a debt score?
Debt isn’t something to be proud of. Being financially free and stable is.
As a young seventeen year old about to head off to college, I was already going into debt. I was paying for college all by myself and had to take out student loans like many college students. However, as I lived in the dorms my freshmen year, I realized living on campus was costly. I saw I was taking out many loans and I had this idea in my head; I do not want to be in debt if I don’t have to be.
So how do young working professionals with student loan debt save money?
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Now here’s how I, as a young working professional with $25,000 student loan debt pay down my debt and save money.
Move back home or cut back on living expenses
While I was in college and living in the dorms, I moved back home. This was largely influenced by seeing how much money I was taking out to pay for school. Since ya know, I paid for school by myself. Although I didn’t enjoy living at home, I sacrificed my wants for what I needed. I needed to save money even though I wanted to live away from home. However, if this is an option for you, do it. I know not many people are able to do that. I was able to do it and was lucky. Today, it’s seen as an embarrassing or “not an adult” thing to do compared to back when our parents and grandparents were more likely able to. But also think about how little the wages have increased throughout the years. The cost of inflation, cost of living, and the price of a degree increased faster than the pace of wages in this country. It’s disproportionate. So there’s an argument with facts. Once you’re able to cut down on living expenses, take that extra money and pay it towards your debt.
2. Start and stick to a budget
On the other side, see how much you are spending and where. Where is your money going? This starts with a budget. Do you have a budget? Do you know how to make one? If you don’t, there are plenty of budget sheets online. You can look around and find ones that are simple first so you can learn the basics of budgeting. Take your income and break it down into bills and every category for every month. As for me and many others, I know budgeting can be hard to stick to at first, but try your best to check it often. Learn where your money is going to. I personally love Mint because it’s free, it’s simple, and it connects to your bank accounts and all other investments/debts you have. Once you buy or anything happens on your card it’s automatically tracked and labeled to whichever category you choose. I highly recommend this website and no it’s not sponsored. Sticking to a budget is important to pay down your student debt. You need to know where your money is going to!
3. Live below your means
Once you have a budget and start tracking your money, where is your money going to? I used to barely make money in college and after college, but I was tracking and learning where I was spending my money. Even down to the penny. I learned that the category I spent the most money (and it’s usually the case for others) is food! I didn’t have to buy coffee. I didn’t have to buy a lot of candy or snacks. I didn’t have to buy food when I went out. I also didn’t have to buy many unnecessary pieces of clothing at the mall. I started to live below my means. I learned what my wants and needs were and started applying it to my spending. I was frugal and learned how to make things at home. From cooking, to deodorant, to hair masks, and even patching up my clothes that needed some patch up. You will realize how much money you save throughout the years. Take that money you were going to spend and apply it towards your debt.
4. Find a part time job
If you don’t have a part time job on top of a full time job already, then this is another option. Yes it’s hard to find jobs nowadays with the economy. However, after college I was able to work a full time job on top of another part time job and worked seven days of the week. No days off. Looking back, I saved and saved money. I was already trying to pay off my student debt while in college, and managed to pay down two loans before graduating. If you are looking to pay down some debt, check out driving Lyft and or Uber for extra cash. Maybe picking up a side job at a restaurant or even working with children. Be creative. Take that extra money you are now making and pay down your debt!
5. Change of lifestyle
This could be similar to number three. However, this is more than just living below your means. This is changing your whole lifestyle. Look at your life and reflect on what’s important in life. Is going out every weekend spending hundreds of dollars more important than saving? Are you taking out loans for a new car even though you already have some sort of debt? In all areas in your life, where are your priorities? Pointing out what’s important to you the most will help align what you truly value. Once you know what’s more important and valuable, start aligning your lifestyle to your values. I am not an extravagant person, I don’t enjoy buying many things I don’t need which then turns into clutter. I’m a simple person whose simple in almost all areas in my life. From food, to clothing, to decorations and to what brings me happiness. Being simple and realizing what’s important to me, I end up saving money. I don’t really go out, spending hundreds of dollars. I don’t go out every day to eat. I save money right there and apply it to my student debt. I also value spending time with myself and family and close friends. Quality time doesn’t usually have me spending money whereas going out with people on the weekends does. So change your lifestyle and see how you can save money.