Paying back student loans can be exhausting. Nowadays, around 7 out of 10 students are graduating with student loan debt, and the average holds around $37,173. If you’re tired of scrimping and saving to make your student loan payments, then you might be suffering from debt fatigue. This happens when borrowers become overwhelmed by the long term process of paying back their loans and just want to spend money frivolously.
But before you run around town using your credit card to buy brand name Kraft dinner instead of the no-name brand, consider these strategies for how to deal with debt fatigue or avoid it entirely.
1. Give Yourself an Allowance for Indulgences
If you’re being very frugal in order to pay down your debt, it’s important that you allow yourself some occasional luxuries. One way to do this is to give yourself an allowance every week that you can spend any way you want. This gives you a chance to splurge a little on some of the things that you normally miss out on or to buy something that you feel you can’t live without. You can use this money for small weekly splurges or save up to buy something truly indulgent. The benefit of budgeting for luxury is that you won’t feel as deprived and you can control the amount you spend.
2. Create a Clear Timeline
When you’re in debt, it can sometimes feel like you’ll never get out of it. But if you’re making consistent payments towards your loans, then eventually you will pay everything off. If you have a written plan that clearly spells out how long it will take you to repay your student loans, then you will be more likely to stay motivated. Each time you pay your loan, you can count down to your last payment. You might even want to keep a running tally somewhere you can see it every day of how much money you still owe or how many payments you have left and watch as the numbers get smaller every month. This will help keep you motivated.
3. Celebrate Your Victories
If you have a number of different loans then you should celebrate every time you pay off a loan. If you’ve consolidated or refinanced your loans and have only one, then you should celebrate when you meet certain milestones like paying off $5,000 or $10,000.
By purposely finding reasons to celebrate your repayment accomplishments, you be less likely to feel like you haven’t made progress and get worn out. There are a number of different ways you can celebrate. You could budget a small amount of money that you could spend on anything you want. For some people that might be a nice dinner out with friends whereas for others it might be a piece of clothing or some other indulgence. Just be sure to cake, drink champagne and post about it on Facebook if you want! Savor the moment and feel proud of how much you’ve accomplished.
4. Find Ways to Save Money Without Noticing
If you’re sick and tired of scrimping and cutting back on things that you love, then you should find ways to save money without actually noticing. There are probably a lot of areas in your budget where you are spending money that you don’t need to spend. For example, you can call your internet provider and try to negotiate a lower rate. Tell them you’re thinking of switching to their competitor and often they will offer you a discount. Another great way to save money without noticing it is to borrow something instead of buying it. If you need something like a ladder or a power tool, ask your friends or family if they have one you can borrow before you spend money on it. You’ll save cash that you can put towards your student loan repayment and you’ll still get to use the thing that you needed. Here are some other strategies to save money daily.
5. Refinance Your Loans
The best way to fight debt fatigue is to get out of debt faster. By refinancing your student loans at a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying, more of your payment every month will go towards the principle of your loan. You’ll get out of debt more quickly and this will help you stay motivated and resist debt fatigue.
6. Find Alternatives to Spending Money
If all of your friends are going out on the weekend and you’re not able to go because you’re using all your extra cash to repay your student loans, organize fun ways to connect with friends that don’t involve spending a lot of money. Instead, host a potluck, beer tasting night, or board game tournament at your house. Look for fun activities that are cheap or free that you can attend with friends or go with them for walks or hikes instead of meeting up for dinner. Just because you don’t have a lot of cash doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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