This being the fourth week in January, many people are making resolutions to improve their lives. Near the top of the resolutions is to get out of debt, including student loans. If you don’t want to spend years paying them off, today I discuss the 3 sacrifices to make to pay your student loans faster.
These loans have been a hot-button issue for the last five years in America, mostly because these loans total more than $1.5 trillion dollars in 2020. Recent college graduates carry on average nearly $29,000 in student loan debt. And this debt keeps graduates from buying houses, having children and starting their own business. With both political parities in the U.S. discuss refreshing the student loan repayment process or just forgive them outright, nothing has been decided.
3 Sacrifices To Make To Pay Your Student Loans Faster: No Restaurants, No Bar-Hopping
When I got serious about paying off my student loans (and other debt) a few years ago, I knew it was a must to give up eating out completely. That meant cooking all my meals at home for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You see, I loved going to places like Chick-fil-A and Chipotle. But those restaurants are quite pricey for the amount of food you get. Let’s say the average meal at Chick-fil-A is $7 including tax. If I were to go there two times a week (which wasn’t abnormal for me), that’s $14 a week which is $56 a month. And that’s just one fast food place!
Now I don’t drink anymore, but I know from experience the alcohol drinks at bars are pretty expensive. A regular beer range from $2 to $6 depending where you go, while a mixed drink is usually twice that amount. And people have multiple on an evening out. And just like fast food, some people visit more than one bar a week.
The Costs Of Eating Out And Drinking
As you can see, the costs for eating out and drinking add up fast. The average American spends a little over $3000 on eating out from 2015 statistics (I looked for newer stats and couldn’t find them but I know that figure is higher now). As for alcohol, the Bureau of Labor Statistics state Americans spend 1% of their income on it per year. That averages out to $565 a year, but it can be higher if you live in a major city.
By cooking all your meals at home, you save more money. Take that money and make extra payments toward your student loans.
Now I will admit this isn’t going to be easy. We all love going out to eat or to bars or both. It’s part of our social culture. So be truthful to your family and friends about your changes. Have more social gatherings at home, and invite people to bring food and drink to share.
3 Sacrifices To Make To Pay Your Student Loans Faster: Use Your Free Time To Make Money
At several points during my early 30’s I had a second job. And there was one point during that period I had three jobs! I did so because I had free time after work and I wanted to make extra money to pay off my debts. When the weekend came, I did my second job. My third job was as needed but I was able to schedule those calls around the week.
If you have any free time, be it after work or on the weekends, you must sacrifice that to make extra money. You can deliver pizzas, sell stuff online, do surveys, or even pick up a part-time job. Whatever you choose, take that money and make extra payments on your student loans.
Now you don’t want to work so much that it affects your main job, especially if that one is full-time with benefits. Finding the right balance for you is key, and it will take time.
Was I tired working so much? Yes! Did I miss my days off? You bet! Does working more suck? Of course! But remember this is only for a finite time. And you’ll feel better once you see your student loan balance decrease.
No Travel, No Vacations
I took my first actual vacation in 2018 when I was 37 years old. That’s not a lie. I traveled to New York City to see Radiohead play at Madison Square Garden.
Yes, I had days off before but I stayed at home because I didn’t have the money to actually travel. And this is the final of the 3 sacrifices to make if you want to pay off your student loans faster. Again, this is a sacrifice you must make.
I know you see people on Instagram and Facebook showing off the cool places they go to. You may even watch people travel to different states and countries on YouTube (I did and stopped because it makes me want to travel so bad). Those people have fun, and they show that fun through photos and video. You want to have fun too!
But just wait to travel. The world isn’t going anywhere. I rather see you take a staycation and visit new places in your city than spend money on travel which could be used for student loan payments.
And, yes, you can take a staycation. I say “No Vacations” because people usually want to travel somewhere and spend money on accommodations, eating, and tourist-stuff. Plus, if you’re using all your free time working, you’ll be too tired to travel anywhere.
Author’s Note 2/17/20: I updated the external link regarding the amount of total student debt in the U.S.
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