Student loans seem to be the plight of soon-to-be graduates. While the anticipation of your diploma in hand will momentarily distract you from the mountain of debt you've accumulated, it's important to remember that it doesn't just go away on its own. The average student loan debt, based on polls and statistics gathered last year, is somewhere in the ballpark of $30,000. That's why the best way to avoid becoming another statistics is to tackle it head-on before you graduate. Well, you may be wondering how this can be done-and if it was so easy why more people haven't already done it? Let's take a look at some ways you can avoid falling into the tumultuous debt trap.
Save Your Money
It sounds simple, right? Well it's easier said than done. The big lesson to learn when it comes to saving money is learning how to budget. By establishing and sticking to a budget you can allocate funds to your "must haves" and your "can live withouts". Certain expenses, like rent, electricity, and food are required to survive so those are labeled the "must haves". However, other expenditures like shopping trips, pedicures, and the newest Xbox game fall into the category of "can live without". These are superfluous purchases which you'd be better off avoiding. Instead, take the money you would spend on them and put it in an online savings account. Over time, that money will earn interest which can then be applied to your student loans.
Seek Employment Early
There's no better way to learn the value of a dollar than to work for it. College is the perfect time to get your first job, if you haven't already or expand your skill set by picking up some afternoon or weekend shifts. It's important to have additional cash flow coming in so that you don't mistakenly take out additional loans to pay for your daily essentials. If you're being discouraged from working while in school, keep in mind the monetary consequences of that decision. Regardless of what anybody says it's completely possible to hold down a job and accomplish your academic goals. All it takes is the right amount of determination and balance.
Invest In Your Future
Investments are another way to build up a healthy nest egg with minimal work. The trick is learning who or what to invest in. The stock market can be risky but with a healthy dose of risk comes reward. Consider first opening a demo account to get a basic understanding for the nature of the market. After you've spent some time placing trades and feel more comfortable with the platform you can up the ante and take chances with larger bids on the table.
Manage Your Deadlines
Part of being an adult is learning to manage your deadlines responsibly. With that being said, you can set up a monthly payment plan to tackle your loans before they become monstrous. Take the money you earn from your part time job or investments and set it aside each month to be applied towards your loans. With due diligence and careful planning it is possible to graduate debt free. If you're looking for a tool to help manage your finances, check out LearnVest. It's about $20 per month but it's worth taking a look at even if just to pick up a few tips.
If all of these options don't work for you and by graduation you're still left with debt, it's not the end of the world. Hopefully with your diploma in hand you'll be able to land a well-paying job and then you can more actively pay off your loans. Otherwise, consolidation may be a viable option to look into.