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7 Tips For Graduates Who Need To Pay For Student Loans

7 Tips For Graduates Who Need To Pay For Student Loans

According to a report by the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt, the average amount of student loan debt for college graduates was $29,400 in 2012 and $26,600 in 2011. Now, that is a lot of student loan debt!

If you recently graduated from college, or you are just now creating an action plan to pay off your student loans, the student loans tips below will help you eliminate your debt.

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1. Calculate your total amount of student loan debt.

This one may sound easy, but you would probably be surprised at how many people do not realize how much student loans debt they have actually acquired.

Calculate your total amount down to the exact dollar so that you know exactly what you are dealing with. This will make the whole situation seem much more real.

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2. Know when interest starts to accrue.

If you are waiting to pay down your student loans until interest starts to accrue, then you will want to know the exact date of when that will happen. Interest can add up quickly, and if you wait to start paying down your student loans until after interest has already been accruing for a long time, then you may find yourself paying more in interest each month than actual principal payments on your student loans.

3. Determine what your action plan will be.

There are two main ways that you can attack your student loan debt. First, is to eliminate your student loans based on their interest rate. Paying down student loans with the highest interest rates will help lower your overall debt as there will be less interest building up.

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The second way is to get rid of your smallest student loan debt first. This way you can eliminate each individual loan as quickly as you can. This can be a great motivator as well since you will actually see some progress.

4. Ask for a lower interest rate.

Sometimes, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate. The main way to qualify is to sign up for automatic payments in return for a 0.25% interest rate cut. It’s not a large decrease, but it is something. Remember to only sign up for these automatic payments if you can actually afford this set payment each month though.

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5. Pay as much as you can.

If you want to get rid of your student loans as fast as you can, pay more than the minimum payment. Pay above and beyond that amount. If you are just paying the minimum payment, then you are taking the longest possible time to pay down your student loans. You can cut years off your schedule if you pay above and beyond. Even something such as an extra $25 each month can add up and help you in the end.

6. Find a way to make extra money.

You probably recently found your first “real” job after graduation, but you may want to look into a possible part-time job or a way to make extra money on the side so that you can put all (or most) of this extra money towards your student loans.

7. Cut your expenses.

I’m sure you have some extra expenses in your budget that you do not need to be paying for. Look for these unnecessary expenses and cut them out completely. Then, apply these savings towards your student loans so that you don’t get used to this extra money and spend it on something else.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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