“I’m going to be making payments on these student loans until I’m 40.”
Sound familiar? If you feel like you’re never going to get rid of your student loan debt, you’re not the only one that feels that way.
On average, college graduates take over 20 years to repay their loans. And with some loans having sky-high interest rates, taking so long to pay off your loans can mean paying thousands in interest charges.
If you want to get rid of your debt as quickly as possible but are short on extra cash, here are nine creative ways to pay off student loans on your current budget.
1. Research state student loan repayment assistance programs
Are you a teacher, lawyer, or healthcare worker? If so, you could be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through your state. Some areas offer loan repayment aid to get talented professionals to work in high-need areas.
For example, nurses in Florida may qualify for the Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program. Licensed nurses who work full-time at eligible sites can qualify for up to $16,000 in student loan repayment assistance in exchange for a service commitment.
To find out if your state operates a similar program, visit the state department of education website.
2. Rent out your extra space
If you need more money to pay down your student loans but aren’t willing to get a roommate, think about renting out your extra space. Whether you have an unused room, closet, garage, or even an empty parking spot, you can turn that wasted space into cash.
With Neighbor for example, you can rent out your unused storage space to your neighbors who need a safe space to put their stuff. Prices vary based on location, size of the space, and whether or not the space is climate-controlled, but generally range from $25 to $200 per month. For example, a 12’ by 18’ climate-controlled basement in Baltimore rented for $124 per month.
If you have a parking spot you don’t use, that can also be an excellent source of cash, especially in high-demand areas. You can rent out your space on SpotHero or CurbFlip on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. In New York, you can expect to get anywhere from $15 to $35 per day.
3. Use the debt avalanche method
If you want to figure out how to pay off student loans quickly, one of the best loan repayment strategies is to use the debt avalanche method. With this approach, you order all your loans from the one with the highest interest rate to the one with the lowest. You make all of the minimum payments on the loans, but if you have any extra money, you put it toward the debt with the highest interest rate.
Once the loan with the highest interest rate is paid off, you roll that loan’s minimum monthly payment — and the extra amount you were paying toward it — toward the loan with the next highest interest rate. You continue this process until all of your debt is completely eliminated.
By targeting the highest interest debt first, you save the most money over the course of your loan repayment. And, because you cut down on the interest that accrues, you shorten your total repayment time.
4. Sell unused stuff
You may not realize it, but you likely have cash just sitting in your home, gathering dust. According to technology resale site Decluttr, the average American household has $264 of unused electronics in their homes. You may also have unwanted clothes, toys, and books. If you sell those items, you can use the extra cash you earn to make additional loan payments. You can sell your items quickly on the following sites:
- Electronics: Decluttr, Gazelle, Flipsy
- Clothes: ThredUp, PoshMark
- Books: Chegg, BookScouter
- Toys/Video Games: eBay, Mercari
5. Put your tax refund toward your student loan balance
If you’re one of the 92 million people who got a tax refund, you can make a big dent in your student loan balance by using it to make a lump sum payment. According to the IRS, the average tax refund in 2020 was $2,767.
To put that in perspective, let’s say you had $30,000 in student loans at 4.5% interest, a 10-year repayment term, and a monthly payment of $311. If you made a lump sum payment of $2,767, you’d pay off your loans 13 months early.
And, you’d save $1,482 in interest charges — a quick and easy way to save big.
6. Negotiate your utility bills
Everything is negotiable, including your utility bills. Your cell phone bills, cable bill, internet service, and even your medical bills can all be negotiated. Even better, you don’t have to do it on your own.
Services like Trim and TrueBill handle the process for you. They will reach out to your providers and negotiate your bills for you. Depending on your current situation, you could save a substantial amount of money which you can then use to pay toward your student loan debt.
7. Use your credit card rewards
If you have a rewards credit card, you can earn valuable cash back or points on every purchase you make. While you can redeem those rewards for gift cards, airline miles, or merchandise, many companies will allow you to redeem them for bank deposits or checks. By opting for cash deposits, you can get extra money to put toward your student loans without having to make any sacrifices.
8. Ask for help with your debt instead of gifts
If you have friends and family who give you cash or gift cards for your birthday or holidays, suggest that they make contributions toward your student loans instead. With LoanGifting, you can create a student loan dashboard where you can show how much debt you have, how much progress you’ve made, and how their gifts help.
Or, if you do get cash gifts for your birthday or other holiday, simply put those right toward your student debt to take out a chunk all at once.
9. Refinance your student loans
Why pay off student loans early? Because they’re expensive and can cost you thousands in interest charges. To help you save money and accelerate your debt repayment, consider student loan refinancing.
If you have good credit — or have someone who can act as a cosigner — you may qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate than you have now. Over time, the lower interest rate can allow you to save a substantial amount of money — and pay off your loans months or even years ahead of schedule. Depending on your situation, you could even pay off your loans in under ten years.
Now that you’ve learned some creative ways to pay off student loans, you can come up with a plan to tackle your debt. If you decide to move forward with refinancing your debt, make sure to use Purefy’s Compare Rates tool to get quotes from top refinancing lenders to ensure you get the best deal.