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I took a business technology class during my sophomore year of college where the professor’s only talent was the ability to put the entire class to sleep. It was awful. But it was still more pleasant than making student loan payments.

Nobody likes making payments. It’s not rewarding, it’s not fun, it just takes money away from cool things. I’ve learned that there are a few things you can do to help get rid of this burden faster, as well as things I’ve seen that you should avoid completely.

Make Bi-weekly Payments

This is a neat hack that actually works. If you take your monthly payment, split it in half, and make that half payment once every two weeks, you can shave a whole year off your student loans and save a bit of money.

This is all possible thanks to MATH – the thing you didn’t major in.

Basically you’re just making an extra payment each year without it feeling like you are. This is because normally you make 12 payments a year but there are 52 weeks in a year. 52 divided by 2  is 26. 26 half payments = 13 full monthly payments. It’s that simple.

Start Making Payments as Soon as Possible

“I have a 6 month grace period”. Great! That’s 6 months you can get ahead of your student loans. Making payments early can help minimize the amount of interest you owe.

If you start your payments early, you should tackle your unsubsidized loans first. These guys accrue interest during your grace period. Because they seem to like to kick you while your down, I like to refer to them as the Tonya Hardings of student loans.

Consolidate or Refinance

Consolidation is when you combine multiple loans into one, and refinancing is when you replace a loan with a new one. Both options can cut down on the amount of interest owed often by a considerable amount.

No matter if your loans are private or from the government you should look at refinancing; you might be surprised at what rate you can find.

Here’s a bonus tip for you, the best rates are often found at credit unions. To help you a bit more, services like CURevl have tools that make it easy to find and compare credit unions to refinance through.

Pay Extra, Even Small Amounts Matter

Student loans last significantly longer than most Hollywood marriages. Just adding a little bit extra each month can significantly add up during the lifetime of your loan.

Another good idea is to start putting extra cash you get from things like tax refunds towards your payments.

Or a motorcycle. I won’t judge.

DON’T DO THESE THINGS

For your happiness and economic well-being, it’s best to avoid these practices. I’ve seen some people hit them head-on, please don’t be one of those people.

Stop Making Payments All Together

The government won’t throw you in jail if you just stop paying… but they will:

  • Ruin your credit
  • Garnish your wages
  • Call you more than your parents

If you’re worried about not being able to pay, work with your loan provider or look to refinance. Again, you should look at credit unions if you want the best refinance rate. Federal ones like Providence can be accessed by just about anyone making this easy.

Think Grad School will Solve Everything

Getting a master’s in journalism isn’t going to turn you into Barbara Walters and make your financial problems go away.

It will only turn you into Barbara Walters.

No, but it’s almost guaranteed to send you spiraling into more debt. If you have a real desire for grad school then super, but don’t treat it like some kind of snooze button for student loans.

Flee The Country

There are 67 countries without extradition treaties. I’m not going to list them but I will tell you that Canada and Mexico aren’t among them.