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The Smartest Way to Pay Off Your Student Loans

The Smartest Way to Pay Off Your Student Loans

Graduation is just around the corner for millions of college seniors around the world. Concerns like college rankings, mid-terms and essay samples will be a thing of the past. Of course, these will be replaced by new worries: finding a job, deciding on grad school and for most, the dreaded student loan repayment.

In today’s economy, students have more debt than ever before; some estimate the total amount of student loan debt is well over 1 trillion dollars in the United States alone. While these numbers are daunting, the repayment process doesn’t have to be. By following some simple suggestions, you can reduce you burden and your overall interest payments without living like a broke college student for the rest of your life!

Student loan

    1. Pay a little extra.

    Once you get started with your loan repayments, you might be feeling a little strapped for cash each month. The thought of sending them MORE money might seem a bit of a stretch. However, if you can manage to send even just $5 extra per month, even if it’s not every month, it can save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan. Experts estimate that for every extra dollar you spend, you can cut up to $2 off at the end. That can add up quick!

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      2. Biweekly payments.

      It may sound strange, but sending in half of your loan payment every two weeks will save you thousands of dollars. In addition to paying less interest, you also manage to make an extra full payment every year. Consider the approach, especially if you are paid biweekly.

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        3. Sign up for automated payments.

        Contact your lender and ask about this option. Most will allow you to have your payments automatically withdrawn from your checking or savings account on a regular interval you set up. The other good thing is that lenders will often lower your interest rate by as much as 0.25% if you make automatic payments. It may not sound like much, but it could knock a year, or more, off the life of your loan.

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        You can also have the payment automatically deducted from your paycheck; it won’t hurt nearly as much as writing out a check will. Because you never get to see the money, you won’t miss it as much!

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          4. Let the tax code work for you for a change.

          One of the good things about student loans is that the interest you pay on them is tax deductible, meaning you can subtract it right from your gross income. This means fewer taxes paid and usually a bigger refund for you.

          For example, if you pay $2,000 in interest on your loans in one year, and are taxed at a rate of 25%, that’s $500 less you owe in taxes, or $500 more in your refund check. If you turn that around and apply it as an extra payment towards your student loans, it means you will effectively be using the government’s money to lessen your debt.

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            5. Pay off variable rate loans first.

            If you have some loans that have a variable interest rate, consider paying them down faster first. While they may have a lower rate than your fixed rate loans, that can change quickly. As the economy improves (hopefully), interest rates can rise drastically, catching you off guard and raising your monthly payments significantly. You might even check into converting these to a fixed rate option. It never hurts to talk to your lender.

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              6. Consolidate.

              This option may not help newer loans that have a fixed interest rate, but for older loans, you can often consolidate them into one monthly payment. This is often at a rate lower than what you are paying on the individual loans. Even if you don’t get a better rate, it may still be easier for you to make one payment per month instead of several.

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              think about what you can do with the money

                7. Get someone else to pay it.

                While this sounds like a great idea, it’s not what you think—unless you have a rich uncle willing to write the check, that is! What you might seriously consider is that some companies that hire college grads may be willing to pay a lump sum payment towards your loans as part of your compensation package.

                You will probably have to accept a reduced salary, and agree to work for them for a specific number of years, but the reduced interest and length of time required to pay off your loans could make it worth it. Consider this option when you get to the salary negotiations stage or at your annual review if you are already working.

                No matter what you get your degree in, if you have student loans, repayment is soon going to be a reality for you. If you use some of these tips, you could easily save yourself thousands of dollars over the course of your loan. That’s no small change for simply applying some of these mostly painless suggestions.

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                Last Updated on August 20, 2018

                30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

                30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

                Spending time with friends is, in and of itself, a great way to pass the time without spending a lot of money. But if you and your friends are used to going out to clubs, pubs or eateries together as your way of hanging out, then you can change it up a bit and save some money too.

                No matter where you live, there are plenty of places to go and do fun things that don’t cost a lot.

                If you are having trouble convincing your friends to do things on the cheap, then be upfront with them. Tell them straight out that you can’t spend that kind of money right now — and don’t let them pay for you either. But here are some great alternatives you can offer.

                30 Fun Things To Do With Friends Without Spending Much

                1. A potluck dinner party. Host a dinner party and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. If you are not comfortable with cooking, maybe try and learn how to cook a new dish together with your friends.

                2. Host a spa day. Give each other manicures. Try out new hairstyles. Make some facial masks or exfoliates using natural, at-home ingredients. Then drink mimosas.

                3. Movie marathon. Log into Netflix and watch every episode of “Stranger Things” Or do an ’80s movie marathon, watching “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club” and all of our old favorites. Don’t have a Netflix membership? Get the free trial just for the marathon!

                4. Pinterest party! You know all of those cool Pinterest crafts you say you’re going to do? Do them. At home one night with friends. Then make up some of those bacon-wrapped whatevers you’ve been dying to try!

                5. Go to the park. Pack a picnic. Hang out. Watch people. Play on the swings.

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                  6. Have an organization party. Set up a day of each weekend where you go to each of your friends’ houses and help them clean out a closet, a room, a garage, whatever. Serve drinks and food and trade stuff among yourselves.

                  7. Hold a yard sale. After all of that cleaning, why not hang out together and make some extra cash too?

                  8. Concerts in the park. All summer long, many parks host free concerts. Go with your friends. Hang out, bring a picnic dinner. This is a very relaxing way to chill out on a hot summer night after work.

                  9. Volunteer together. Offer to do the yard work for the local senior center or hang out with the kids at the YMCA. After a few hours of volunteering together, you will have new respect for each other and something new to chat about.

                  10. Play board games. Drag out the Scrabble or the Yahtzee. You can hang out and play all sorts of games with large groups or small ones. Hold a tournament and compete against each other. Here’re some board games ideas.

                  11. Video game tournament. Not into board games? OK. Well, how about a video game tournament? Whether it’s the latest dancing game or “Call of Duty,” play against each other and award prizes (or food) to the winners.

                  12. Grab a ball and a bat and go play baseball at the local park. Grab a basketball or a tennis racket. Most parks have courts and fields you can use for free as long as there isn’t an organized event going on.

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                  13. Go to the school play. This might cost a little for admission, but it’s a great way to support your community and have a fun time.

                  14. Iron Chef night. Bring your friends over and have an Iron Chef night where you cook dinner out of only the items in your pantry. No buying anything!

                  15. Go dumpster diving. Yup. I said it. Check out the dumpsters in your area and see what you can find. You might even find dinner! Here are some tips for respectful diving.

                    16. Go to yard sales. Take all that money you made at your yard sale and cruise around your town together looking for cool stuff. Maybe you could even fix something up and resell it.

                    17. Go fishing.

                    18. Go camping.

                    19. Find some cool trails around your town and go hiking. Here’re some of the best hiking trails you should try.

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                    20. Get out the bikes and bike everywhere for a weekend.

                      21. Dig out the old croquet set — or borrow your Mom’s — and play croquet. Do it! Totally fun.

                      22. Swap movies and music. Have everyone bring over a box of old movies and CDs they don’t want anymore — or don’t watch anymore. Then swap with abandon.

                      23. Go on a walking tour of your town. Most towns or cities have a historic district. Find out if there is a walking tour available. If not, make one up!

                      24. Scavenger hunt. Put your friends to the test — yes, this is for grown-ups — to find different things in your city…like a certain bike rack, a vintage sign, that sort of thing. The winner gets a dinner cooked by the losers.

                      25. Find out when the free days are at your local museum or zoo. Most have them and they can be great fun to visit with friends.

                      26. Hold a quilting bee. No, you don’t have to be fancy — or old — for this. Grab some old T-shirts that you love, old jeans, whatever. Cut them into squares and sew them together. Who knows? Maybe it will become a regular thing?

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                      27. Go to Open Mic night. Your town is likely harboring some great talent at an open mic night that has no cover and cheap drinks!

                      28. Go to a religious service. Even if you’re not religious, going to a service in an unfamiliar religion can be enlightening and a great way to meet new people.

                      29. Find a swimming hole. Head to the old town swimming hole — or find a new one. What a great way to spend a lazy afternoon with friends.

                        30. Start a book club, card club (canasta anyone?), sewing club or scrapbooking club. Something you and your friends like. My parents used to belong to a cooking club where once a month all of their friends gathered at one house and the host family cooked a meal from a different country. I learned a lot about food that year.

                        You don’t really need to spend much to have lots of fun with your friends! Pick a few of these ideas and start trying them out this weekend with your friends!

                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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