Universities taught you about the complexities of the English language while forgetting to educate about college debt (Eh-hem — throat clearing). If this is the case, it will be up to you to educate and plan for your financial future. First things first:
Know your debt
You need to understand the complexities of all your different loan types.
- What are the interest rates?
- What are the minimum monthly payments?
- When do payments start?
- What are the fees associated with the debt?
Once you know the details you will be able to make a plan: Put your money where it counts. A great way to track your debt is with a spreadsheet.
Don’t incur late fees
They may seem harmless – $10 here or $20 there – but these fees add up. If you’re not careful, late fees can total more than interest fees! Make all minimum monthly payments, no excuses! Set up an automatic payment system if needed.
Focus on high-interest loans – credit cards
Get rid of high interest as fast as possible! High is anything upwards of 7%. Most likely this will be credit cards. These guys can cost upwards of 20% per year. If you don’t have the money, it is best to get a loan for your loan. What? Did I just say that? Is the answer for debt more debt?
This is when you obtain a large loan to pay back several smaller loans. This allows you to pay a lower yearly interest rate. For example, you lock in a 7% rate to pay back your credit cards with a 20% rate! This can be a risky strategy that I do not recommend for everyone.
Postponing low-interest loans
Often, college loans have very fair terms. This includes things like no interest until after graduation. Then, after school, they may only charge a small rate, like 3%. You don’t have to feel bad not to pay them right away. Once the credit cards are paid back, you will have freed up extra dollars. This may actually allow you to pay the student loans back more quickly.
It is a little overwhelming dealing with money. The anxiety associated with finances leads to procrastination. This, in turn, can keep you trapped in financial slavery. If this sounds like you, it is best to get a little help. A consultant can help you understand interest rates and repayment schedules. They can also act as a coach: helping you keep goals and stay on track.