By Anna Johansson • February 06, 2018•Careers
As someone who has been through four years of undergraduate and another three years of law school, you know better than almost anyone just how expensive student loans can be. The question is, will you pay them off or let them control your life for decades to come?
Short-Term Sacrifices Lead to Long-Term Gains
When you’re young and starting out in your career, it’s often hard to see the big picture. The palpability of the moment leads you to believe that your present experiences will be indicative of your future reality, when the truth is that you sometimes have to make short-term sacrifices to enjoy long-term gains.
The good news for you is that you’re in a career field that offers an exceptionally high ceiling in terms of salary and compensation. You may have a hefty student loan bill, but you also have the opportunity to make lots of money in the future. Maintaining this perspective and understanding the positives in what might look like a bleak situation will give you the motivation to take control.
Paying off a six-figure student loan debt won’t be easy, but it is possible. Here are some things you’ll need to do:
1. Become a Strict Budgeter
It’s impossible to be aggressive about paying off debt without a strict budget. A strict budget allows you to see exactly how much money is coming in each month and strategically tell every penny where to go.
When developing your budget, start by focusing on the essential expenses. These include things like mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, insurance, and anything else that you need to survive. Once you’ve accounted for these things, you’ll have a better picture of how much you can realistically expect to save each month.
While saving $2,000 per month might seem like a drop in the bucket when you’re looking at a large debt, it adds up over time. At this rate, you’d be paying off nearly $25,000 per year. In other words, you could pay back a $150,000 loan in six years or less. While these are just sample numbers, it goes to show how strict budgeting can lead to long-term gains.
2. Save Money Wherever Possible
You can’t live a life without spending any money on discretionary purchases, but you can be smarter about how you shop, where you buy, and what you buy. A dollar saved is essentially a dollar earned, so it’s important that you scrutinize your habits as a consumer.
Whenever you shop online, make sure you use coupon sites like Promocodes.com and comparison search engines like PriceGrabber.com. You’ll be surprised how many deals are out there if you’re willing to look around.
3. Make Smart Investments
Finally, make sure you’re making smart investments. While you don’t want to be too risky with your money when you’re in the process of paying off debt, it’s smart to think about letting your money work for you. Heavily diversified mutual funds can produce steady earnings and should give you more to throw at your debt in three to five years.
Stop Complaining, Start Repaying
If you turn on the news or listen to your peers, it’s easy to get caught up where you start to see student loans as evil atrocities that educators and lenders have heaped on you to permanently ruin your life. But that’s the victim mentality and it won’t get you very far.
Instead of complaining, you need to plan to start repaying. Not only will this help you feel a sense of control over your life, but it’ll also lead to some tangible progress in your pursuit of financial freedom.