Whether you like it or not (and I can’t imagine you like it), you will need to resume your student loan payments in the New Year. Specifically, February 1. And while student loan relief may be extended in the future, you will eventually have to pay back the Pied Piper. So instead of waiting, you need to prepare now.
You might be dreading the end of student loan relief, but listen to me: student loans don’t have to go on forever. How can I know? Years ago, I was able to pay off $ 36,000 in student loans in 18 months. You can do the same. And without a student loan, you can live a life with more room and freedom.
Make sure your information is correct
You might not have made a loan repayment for almost two years, and a lot can happen during that time. Did you hang on? Change your last name? Moving to the mountains to work remotely in an Insta-worthy log cabin? (If it’s all three, I take my hat off to you. Congratulations.)
But if you don’t keep your lenders up to date with your changes, they’ll assume you’ve been in hiding. Believe me, the student loan industry doesn’t want you to win – they want your money. Don’t let outdated information give them the opportunity to fuck you with more fees and penalties.
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So check that your name, address and banking information are up to date. And while you’re at it, take a look at your payment plan so you won’t be surprised.
And if you know you’ll have a hard time paying your bill, let your lender know ahead of time. You may be able to switch to a payment plan that works for your current situation. But don’t wait until the relief ends on January 31, 2022 to figure it all out (looking at yourself, fellow procrastinators)!
Budget for the repayment of your student loan
Money will rise and evaporate from your bank account if you don’t intend to manage it. This is why I budget – and why you should too. If you haven’t yet experienced the fun of using a budget, today is a great day to start. I want you to manage your money in a smart way, using what is called the zero-based budget.
Just list your income and subtract all your expenses until you get that magic zero. If you end up with a positive number, you’ve got some work to do – give those remaining dollars a job. We don’t want our dollars to be jobless.
If you end up with a negative number then you really have some work to do. As in, you will probably need to cut back somewhere or find a second job to earn more money. But hey, you’re just one app away from earning extra cash for walking dogs with Rover, delivering groceries with Instacart or Shipt, or driving for Uber or Lyft. I worked several times when I was paying off my student loans, and it made all the difference.
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Start paying off your loans now
The biggest mistake I see people making during this time of debt relief is not paying back their loans, even when they could. Honestly, if that’s you, you choose what you want now instead of what’s best for your future. It is a terrible compromise. Instead, take advantage of this interest-free period. Pay off your loans now, and all the money Sallie Mae would normally pocket on interest will go towards your principal balance and your freedom.
Yes, paying off your student debt takes time, hard work and a lot of sacrifice, but there is a light at the end of the student loan tunnel: a life on your terms. But you will never get it if you don’t take action. Don’t wait for student loan relief or any other government program like Civil Service Loan Forgiveness (which currently has an appalling 2% success rate). Take a step towards a life of freedom and freedom now.
George Kamel is a personal finance expert with a counter-cultural approach to money. He is the host of The Fine Print and EntreLeadership podcasts on the Ramsey Network. Since 2013, George has worked at Ramsey Solutions where his goal is to help people spend less, save more, and avoid consumer traps, so they can get the most out of their money.