Christmas is almost here and the air is palpably festive. Everyone is starting to let go the stresses of the daily grind and relax with friends and family in warm and cozy homes. Sometimes, though, it can be a challenge to honor the spirit of Christmas and show your loved ones how much they mean to you by finding the right gifts when you’re totally strapped because of student loan payments. Here are some ways to make the specter of student loans a part of your Christmas past instead of your Christmas future.
1. Be Aware Of Your Loans
Get familiar with what loans you have and how much you owe, including interest. The better you know your loans, the easier it will be strategize and get organized.
2. Stay In Contact With Your Servicer
This can be a tricky one because loan servicers can be difficult to reach, but be persistent. Your loan servicer can help you in a number of ways such as to switch repayment plans. Establish contact before you get into repayment trouble so your servicer is familiar with you and your situation.
3. Budget Wisely
Clearly laying out a budget you know you can live with is the first step to staying on budget. If you’re just looking at a lump sum for the month, it’s easy to lose track of where your money’s going. Separate out all the money you’ll need to spend on necessities for the month and then allocate a set amount of leisure money per week.
4. Think Ahead
Down the road you might be eligible for loan forgiveness, but only if you make a set number of years of on time payments; don’t prolong your eligibility by missing payments. Missing payments will also mess up your credit and could lead to default: you don’t want any of that.
5. Set Up An Auto Pay
One way to prevent yourself from missing payments (which, with a busy schedule, is a challenge to keep track of) is to set up a monthly automatic payment out of your checking account. It’s easier to keep track of how much is in your checking account than it is to remember to make the payments.
6. Give Feedback To The CFPB
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau makes regular recommendations to Congress and the Department of Education about ways to improve student loan laws and servicing. The CFPB asks borrowers for feedback in order to determine what needs to be done.
7. Stay On Top Of Student Loan News
New developments are being made all the time in the landscape of student loans. The better informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to make personal finance choices and even political choices that can help you down the line. For instance, the issue of tax-free loan forgiveness has recently cropped up and will have a huge impact on borrowers.
8. Think About Income-Based Repayment
One new development in student loans is the recently improved Income-Based Repayment plan. A great repayment option for borrowers since its inception, the minimum required monthly payments are now even lower and time before loan forgiveness eligibility is even shorter.
For more great ways to help you better manage your student debt, contact a student aid group with expertise at optimizing student debt.