There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to mastering how to manage student loan debt. It’s a tough financial burden to bear, and it’s easy to get bogged down by feelings of anxiety, stress, and hopelessness.
But, the truth of the matter is, your debt does not define you.
You are more than your student loans. It might not seem true right now, but you can still take control of your financial fate. It’s all about learning how to deal with student loan debt, both financially and emotionally.
Here are three different ways you can take control of your student loan debt, rather than letting it control you.
1. Develop a mindset that empowers you
When it comes to learning how to manage student loan debt, the first thing you’ve got to think about is what your attitude is towards money and yourself.
First off, it’s time to get out of a mindset of helplessness and negativity. Feeling paralyzed, confused, or just plain hopeless comes from the story you tell yourself about your student debt and what it means to you.
Student loan debt is a part of your life (for now). But, again, it doesn’t have to define it.
What does your inner voice whisper when you think about dealing with your student loan debt?
Does it say things like:
- “This is your fault because you didn’t do well enough to get scholarships, so you had to borrow money.”
- “You’ll never be wealthy and you’ll always be in debt.”
- “You’re a failure because you have financial problems that you don’t know how to solve.”
The truth is, all that happened was you borrowed money to pay for higher education. But once you start attaching negative feelings to your student loan debt, you start believing they’re true.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way when you’re thinking about how to manage student loan debt. The good news is you have the power to change it.
Why? Because you started believing your own negative thoughts in the first place! That means you can choose to make up and believe a different story.
You can change your mindset, and say things like:
- “I made an investment in my future.”
- “My student loans provide me with opportunities to learn about personal finance in a way I might otherwise not have.”
- “I’m educated, intelligent, and capable. I will succeed in reaching my financial goals, which include repaying my loans.”
You can choose what you believe is true. And if you want to handle your financial life — and your loans — more confidently, then choose to believe something positive and energizing.
Tell yourself a story where you are capable, effective, and successful in paying down your student loan debt.
2. Strategize dealing with student loan debt
Feeling fired up and inspired? Good! Now, it’s time to make a plan around how to manage student loan debt that you can stick to over time.
Having a detailed roadmap that outlines the actions you need to take and when will help keep you motivated, even when things get tough.
It’s easy to despair and say, “I don’t know what to do!” However, giving yourself an action plan to follow means you don’t have to continue researching. And you’ll have something to lean on if you feel emotional or overwhelmed.
There are a variety of strategies you can use to help you repay your student loans.
If you’re motivated by the numbers, consider using the debt avalanche approach. If you need little victories along the way to keep you in action, try the debt snowball instead.
Don’t forget about options like debt consolidation, too when considering how to manage student loan debt. If you have a lot of loans with various payments and interest rates to track, it can help everything feel simplified and straightforward.
And don’t be afraid to research options for aggressively paying down debt. These might include finding ways to generate more income or cut costs out of your monthly budget so you can make bigger monthly payments.
3. Learn how to manage student loan debt today
You have the right mindset. You have a plan. Now it’s time to start making progress on repaying your student loans.
Check out these resources to help you get started:
- If you have federal student loans, be sure to check out repayment and forgiveness programs.
- The U.S. Department of Education also provides a complete website for student loan borrowers with an extensive list of resources.
- Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you experience issues with your student loan servicer.
Use various Student Loan Hero calculators to help you play with the numbers and envision different scenarios. Tweaking the variables can help you see how different actions lead to different outcomes.
For instance, it can be extremely motivating to see how just an extra $50 or $100 per month put toward your student loans can accelerate the repayment process and save you money in interest over time.
Stay positive, focused, and motivated
Remember, at the end of the day, you are more than your student loan debt.
With the right mindset and game plan, you can set yourself up for success and make progress towards repaying the money you owe.
Choose positivity over negativity, and powerful action over a meek retreat. You can take control of your situation and deal with your debt. What you believe about yourself and your finances is up to you.
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