Advertising
Advertising

10 Ways to Reduce College Debt

10 Ways to Reduce College Debt

More than two-thirds of college graduates have student loan debt, and the average amount is a staggering $30,100. When you add interest to this, it can take people decades to pay off their debt. Fortunately, whether you are in your freshman year or have already graduated, there are some things that you can do to reduce your total student loan debt. In fact, with a little ingenuity, you may even be able to avoid taking out loans at all. Utilizing the following tips may not cover all of your expenses, but it will definitely give you a good head start.

1. Volunteer to Work off Student Loans

Are you a college graduate and having a difficult time paying your loans? You can get some financial relief while doing something good for the world. There are programs that enable you to set a funding goal, which you then pay off by donating an appropriate amount of time to a charity. This volunteer opportunity is currently only open to college graduates, but it couldn’t hurt to start making plans to utilize it before you finish earning your degree.

2. Seek Out Unusual Scholarships

Scholarships are always a great way to reduce your expenses, but the most well-known options are also highly competitive and may seem out of reach. Fortunately, there are numerous smaller scholarships available that you may be eligible for. A prime example is the $3,000 Tobi Cares Scholarship for women. There are also a wide variety of small scholarships you can apply for based on your race, abilities or even your medical history. Ultimately, the sky is the limit when it comes to the funding that’s available, but you will need to be willing to put in a lot of work tracking these options down and applying for them.

Advertising

3. Consider Off-Campus Housing

There are many misconceptions about the cost of off-campus living, but the reality is that it is typically a better option. However, you will need to have roommates, and you will also need to do a solid comparison of expenses to make sure you get the best possible deal. Some very expensive major cities are actually more cost-prohibitive than living on campus, so make sure you take that into account. In the long run, your best bet is to choose housing close by to avoid parking fees and other additional expenses. If this is available cheaper off-campus, then go for it. If not, living on campus makes the most sense.

4. Go to School Part-Time

It’s understandable to want to graduate as quickly as possible. There are several advantages to taking your time, though. A major perk of going to school part-time is that you can also work to help pay for your tuition. Even if you are still going to need to take out loans, you’ll also have more time until you are required to start paying them back. Remember: student loans do not become collectible until after you graduate. Choosing a longer path to graduation may be exactly what you need to avoid a mountain of post-school debt.

5. Buy and Sell Used Textbooks

Do you have an extra $1,200 to shell out per year for textbooks? This is what most students pay annually, and the price continues to rise. After a four year undergraduate degree, you could spend almost $5,000 on your textbooks alone. The good news is that you can drastically cut this fee by buying your textbooks used and selling them after you’re finished with each applicable class. If you prefer, you could even rent a textbook instead or look for a less expensive Kindle version. No matter which route you choose, you should be able to save at least 50 percent on your textbooks.

Advertising

6. Avoid Restaurants

Eating out may be a common experience for college students, but you don’t have to fall into this lifestyle. Not only is it much more expensive than buying your own groceries but it can also lead to the so-called freshman 15. If you are living on campus, be sure to eat as many meals as possible from the cafeteria. After all, you’ve already paid for this food with your lodging expenses, so why let that go to waste by effectively paying twice for a meal? Those who live off-campus can save a lot of money by cooking their own meals. In fact, it’s estimated that eating out three nights a week costs $3,900 per year more than making food at home.

7. Steer Clear of Credit Cards

It is way too easy to utilize the convenience of a credit card instead of actually being accountable for every single purchase you make. Sadly, this ease of use often leads to additional debt. Instead of making it even harder for you to pay your bills, operate on a cash only basis. This will make you much more aware of what you’re spending, and it will also make it impossible to overspend on frivolous items.

8. Cut the Cable Cord

Entertainment can be an essential part of unwinding, and it is necessary for college students to destress whenever possible. However, paying for cable or regularly going out to the movies is not a good idea. The average American spends $123 a month for cable, but you can drastically reduce this expense by opting out of cable in favor of Netflix or Hulu. There are also services such as Slingshot TV that enable you to select the cable channels that are most important to you. It’s also possible to remain entertained for free by taking advantage of your local public library. Most libraries have DVDs and video games that they rent for free to members.

Advertising

9. Ride a Bike

The expense of an automobile can be very high. After all, you not only have to pay for the car but you also need to take care of insurance, gasoline, oil changes, and other types of maintenance. Not to mention parking fees and a long list of other hidden costs. By not taking a car to college, you can simplify your life and save a lot of money. Riding a bicycle is one of the easiest alternatives, and it has the added bonus of being eco-friendly. If necessary, you can also still save lots of money while using public transportation.

10. Head to Europe for Free College

If you could eliminate tuition altogether, you could definitely stay out of debt, right? Well, pack your bags and head to Europe! There are 44 schools in 8 European countries that allow Americans to get a free college education. You will have to take care of your housing, food, textbooks and testing fees, but you won’t get stuck with tuition costs. This can save you tens of thousands of dollars each year.

There are countless other ways that you can reduce your expenses, including stretching your wardrobe budget by taking advantage of sales and closeout prices. Although you may not enjoy scrimping and saving right now, being responsible while you’re in college and during the first few years after graduation can help you save a ton of money on student loan interest fees.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: 0TheFool via pixabay.com

More by this author

Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

How I Keep the Spark Alive in My 10 Years of Marriage 8 Psychological Tricks To Help You Nail the Interview of Your Dream Job The Ultimate Solution To Your Super Long Stay At Bathroom: Constipation Remedy. Low glycemic index foods I Promise These 10 Low GI foods can Keep You Fuller For Longer! Emotional Quotient Isn’t Just About Emotions. It Involves Numerous Skills

Trending in Money

1 How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success 2 17 Practical Money Skills that Will Set You Up for Early Retirement 3 25 Things to Sell to Make Extra Money Easily 4 How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide) 5 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

Advertising

So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

Advertising

Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

Advertising

You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

Advertising

Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Read Next