Special thanks to my real life friend, Jessi Fearon from The Budget Mama for writing this inspiring guest post on 4 ways to tackle your student loans faster.
My journey through college is a little different from most but not all that crazy. I started college off on the right foot, right after high school with a scholarship and getting good grades. Then somewhere in the middle of my first semester, I started slacking off. I am not sure exactly what happened, maybe I just got lazy but I was over the whole going to class thing and by the end of my third semester of college I had not only lost my scholarship but had been put on academic suspension for a semester.
That began a series of trying to find a job in the “real world” that was decent without a college education. After years working in retail and then transitioning to the world of Administrative Assistant, I was over making pennies compared to my college-educated friends doing the same work as me.
Therefore, I went back to school, only this time there was no scholarship despite applying to everyone I even remotely qualified for. Not being a patient person, I did the next thing that seemed to make sense to me at the time – I took out student loans. Thankfully, I was smart enough to not take out more than I needed since I had a fulltime job to pay the bills.
It has been three years since I graduated with my degree and since I had to start paying back those dreaded student loans. Since my family is on a one income and has been since I graduated and our goal this year is to have my student loans paid for by December 31st, I have had to get a little creative with my pay off strategy.
Make a Plan
This is the first step in any debt pay off strategy – you need to make a plan. My hubs and I created our debt pay off plan by first looking at our budget and determining how much we could realistically pay in excess to my loans every month. From there, we made an agreement to apply every tax refund check, bonus check, my blog income, and any other “free” money we receive towards my debt.
Sell, Sell, Sell
This has been my go-to strategy for years when it comes to paying off debt – sell everything you do not need. The first step is to go through an area of your home and purge all the unnecessary stuff and once you have your pile of stuff you do not need anymore, go through it and determine what items are sellable.
Sellable items are ones that are free from stains, tears, discolorations, or damaged in any way. Sellable items do not necessarily have to be the most expensive items you have. You will be surprised at how much some people will pay for items that originally did not cost you very much. I once sold a bag that I originally paid $5 for, for $35.
This has been the easiest way for us to add extra money to our debt pay off plan – use the “free” money we earn from InboxDollars and Swagbucks. I will usually wait until I have accumulated at least sixty dollars on InboxDollars before requesting a check (they will take a processing fee out of your earnings) and I will wait until I have accumulated at least five thousand Swagbucks before requesting my money via PayPal gift card. Once we receive our money, I will immediately apply it towards my student loan debt.
I am not talking about cash back earned from a credit card (we do not have any so that would not work for us anyway), I am talking about cash back earned from sites like Ebates and Shop at Home. A few weeks ago, I received my latest check from Ebates for $90 and immediately applied it towards one of my student loans. This little bit of extra money helps our debt snowball gain momentum.
If you need to add a little boost to your debt snowball, these creative ways will help you tackle your student loan debt. The key to keeping your momentum up when tackling the debt monster is to keep track of how far you have come – keep your eye on your end goal.
What are some creative ways that you use to tackle your student loan debt?
Jessi Fearon is a wife, mom of two little boys, and writer behind The Budget Mama, a personal finance site where she shares her family’s real life on a budget. She is devoted to helping her readers thrive on a budget while becoming better money managers.
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!