Paying Off Student Loans in the New Year

By Adrienne Sheares

2012 is gone and it’s a brand spanking New Year.  What’s your New Year’s Resolution?   Did you vow to eat less junk food, exercise more or try something completely out of your comfort zone? For whatever reason, the promise of a new year inspires us to revamp our lives and put our best foot forward.

Although 2013 gives us the warm fuzzy feeling of a new beginning for many of us, those student loans payments will follow us into the New Year.  Despite the carry over, there may be some options to lighten your financial burden in 2013.

1.  Reevaluate Your Options

If you’re struggling to make the minimum payments on your loans, check out these resources. Perhaps you can lower your monthly payments or defer your loans.  Remember, private loans may be less flexible when it comes to repayment options.  Talk to your lender and find out what options are available to you.

2. How Low Can You Go?

Ask yourself, are there any expenses you can cut out of your life?  You need a roof over your head, food, but what else do you honestly need?  Whether that’s downgrading your cellphone plan, forgoing eating out for lunch or cutting cable, there’s money to be saved.

So what about cable? The average cable bill is $128, nearly 3x the price in 2001.   Whether you want to go cold turkey and cut cable, that’s up to you.  (Although remember some cable companies make it cheaper to have cable and Internet rather than a stand-alone Internet).  Also check if there are pesky limits to Internet usage if you want to go the Netflix or Hulu route.  I recently took the plunge and saw the savings immediately.  You could see up to $1,536 in savings – which could turn out to be even more, when you think of the interest that you didn’t rack up because you paid off debt instead.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Get A Side Hustle

Everyone needs a side hustle or an extra gig.  If you’re fortunate enough to have full-time employment, making extra money can help you pay down your loan a little faster or have more money for that gym membership you wanted for you other resolution.   Whether it’s babysitting, bartending, freelancing, or working at Starbucks, every little bit of money counts.  Even if you only take home an extra $100 bucks a month, after a year, you’ve made an extra $1,200 that can go towards your loans.

Whether these tips will help you pay your other bills, pay your loans off faster or allow you a little more financial freedom, hopefully they will make your 2013 better than 2012!   Feel free to tell us some more solutions in the comment section.

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