The burden of student loan debt can take a serious emotional toll. According to a Student Loan Hero survey, more than 64% of respondents lose sleep over the money they owe, and more than 67% suffer other physical symptoms of anxiety.
If you’re feeling stressed, it could help to reach out to friends, family or another member of your community. Not only could you get emotional support, but you might also get the motivation to pay off your student loans faster.
Here are four ways to get social that could help you manage your student debt:
- Reach out your friends and family
- Join online support groups and forums
- Find a student loan accountability partner
- Share your debt payoff journey on social media
If you’re experiencing major stress as a result of your student loans, don’t keep it to yourself. Share your struggles with friends, family or your partner, so they can support you through this challenging time.
While they might not be able to offer guidance on how to manage your loans, they can provide emotional support. You might also discover that your friends are facing the same issues, but just don’t talk about them because money feels like a taboo subject.
Whenever you’re feeling heavy pressure or anxiety, sharing your feelings with others can help lighten the burden. Even if you just have a conversation with an understanding friend or family member, you’ll feel better knowing you’re not alone in dealing with your challenges.
But remember that while friends and family can offer emotional support, they’re probably not the best sources of specific advice for managing your student loans. Everyone’s situation is different, and you’ll be better off learning from student loan experts.
So lean on your social network for support, but stick with the professionals when it comes to making decisions around your student loan repayment plan or strategy.
Besides calling on friends or family, you can head online to discuss your experiences with others in similar situations. Whether you find a community on Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn or another network, you can connect with those in the same boat as you are.
Sharing his struggles online is what helped student loan borrower and graduate of Florida State University, Lawrence Gonzalez, deal with his $90,000 in student loans.
“Getting social definitely helped me figure out the options that were available for me,” said Gonzalez, who ended up lowering his payments on an income-driven repayment plan. “Instead of hiding in shame, my social network is open to discussing strategies to either reduce payments or avoid student loan reduction scams. It’s been a huge benefit for my peer group and community.”
Although a student loan support group can provide advice and guidance, remember to fact-check any advice with trusted resources. Make sure any information you receive in an online forum is accurate before acting on it, lest you mistakes with your student loans.
Whenever you’re working toward a big goal, partnering up with an accountability buddy can help you achieve it. Repaying student loans is no different.
“I have often found myself recommending [an accountability partner] to virtually everyone that comes seeking advice on the best push to paying off their student loans,” said investment writer and personal finance coach Edith Muthoni.
“I am of the opinion that getting social and sharing your achievements and setbacks earns you supporters — and often critics — who play the vital role of holding you accountable to your goals and also motivate you to keep going towards its achievement,” she said.
While you can work toward your goals solo, teaming up with an accountability partner can help keep you on track. You’ll have someone outside of yourself that you can report to, and share your successes and setbacks with.
Although a single accountability partner could keep you committed to your goals, you might also share your progress with your entire network. This kind of public accountability is what helped Amber Masters and her husband pay off over half a million dollars worth of debt.
“My husband and I share our journey paying off $650,000 on social media and on our blog because we figured it would make us accountable to have people watching,” said Masters. “It definitely keeps us motivated.”
Although she admits that sharing her finances with the world can be tough, the support she’s gained has been invaluable.
“It really helps having people cheer us on, especially on tough days,” Masters said. “It’s just like having someone watch you run a marathon — it can be a little stressful knowing they are watching, but I think it helps us perform better.”
What’s more, Masters says sharing her and her husband’s experiences encourages others to conquer their debt.
“It inspires other people who are on similar journeys, so we want to keep up our aggressive student loan payments and work hard to pay them off to show them that it is possible,” she said.
If you’re open to it, documenting your journey on social media, perhaps through Facebook posts or Instagram stories, could keep you accountable to your goals, garner support from your community and inspire others to take control of their finances.
You’re not the only one dealing with financial challenges
Money has long been a taboo subject, and many people think it’s better to stay silent about their struggles. But with more than 45 million Americans currently dealing with student loans, you’re certainly not alone.
Sharing your struggles with others could provide the emotional support you need to deal with your financial stress and anxiety. And finding an accountability partner or community to cheer you on could keep you focused on your long-term goals, even when the inevitable setbacks occur.
Although student loans can be stressful, they don’t have to be an alienating experience. By relying on your social network, you can find support and camaraderie as you work on conquering your student debt once and for all.