Living the Good Life while Paying Off Student Loans

Thought you’d left your ramen-eating days behind in college?

If you’re staring at a large monthly student loan payment, you may feel like you’re still living the life of a poor college student – even with your college diploma in hand.

It’s easy to feel like student loan payments are getting in the way of living the ultimately happy, wealthy life of a college grad ready to take on the world. The good news is that regardless of how much debt you owe, there are ways to enjoy everything post-college life has to offer, while still meeting your monthly student loan obligations and budget.

Here are 4 easy ways to still live the good life while paying off student loans:

1) Take advantage of all things free and discounted

There are definitely perks to thinking and acting like a college student, one of which is still being able to take advantage of freebies and discounts for recent college grads and young professionals. (Pro tip: Hang on to your college ID card!) Check out your local museums, concert venues and other art exhibitions for discounts or free admission for recent grads. Another good source for cheap entertainment is your public library (and there’s more than just books there!). Instead of paying for a movie rental or an online subscription, take a look at your library’s DVD collection; you may be pleasantly surprised by what they have. Many libraries now also offer ebook rentals online; so before you go off and buy your favorite ebook, visit your local library online.

2) Pick your spending priorities

You can’t have everything in life, especially with a hefty monthly student loan payment, but you can still have some of the things you love. If you’re living on a strict budget, allowing yourself a few key splurges that won’t break the bank can be a great way to boost your mood. Love your morning coffee? Do you take pride in your perfectly manicured nails? Upgrading to a gourmet cup-of-joe or buying new nail polish at the drugstore can be affordable but effective ways to make you feel like you’re living a wealthy life.

3) Put your stuff to work and earn some extra money

You spend your days working hard to earn money, so why not put your possessions to work, too? There are plenty of creative ways to earn money with the things you already have. Services like Airbnb and Lyft let you rent out space in your apartment online or offer your services as an informal taxi driver for car-less folks in the area. If you don’t have a place to rent out or a car of your own, consider selling some of the things collecting dust in your closet. You may be able to earn a pretty penny for your gently used clothes, movie collection or electronics. Also, donating items to charitable organizations can add up to be nice tax refunds come tax time! And that could mean extra cash for the things you love.

4) Research your student loan repayment options

If you are really struggling to afford your monthly student loan payments and need to increase your quality of life, take a look at your alternative student loan repayment options. If you’ve borrowed loans from the federal government, you may be able to qualify for an income-based repayment plan that could help you reduce your monthly payments and enjoy life a little more today. Also, be sure to check out your student loan refinancing options that can help you lower your interest rate and monthly payments.

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