A lot of my friends don’t like me.
And it’s not because I’m bossy or arrogant. It’s just because I’m not even in my senior year and I’m already trying to pay off my debt.
They already know that I’m going to turn them down when they invite me to do anything that costs a lot of money because I stick to a budget.
There aren’t many students like me thinking about the future and taking action about it in the present. But I can’t stand the thought of me owing some imaginary person copious amounts of money for a long period of time.
So here’s how I manage to pay off my debt while still in school.
1) I Side Hustle
Number one, and most importantly, I side hustle. During my freshman year, I got into freelance writing. I started with the detested Upwork (even though I recommend it for beginners!) and now I’m pitching to bigger companies, hoping to work for them as an independent contractor. From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed writing, so why not make a side income off of something I love?
If you’re also into writing, check out what your fellow journalism majors are doing for money. Some of them might write for the school newspaper as (paid) staff writers. Follow the crowd for once and see if you can bask in the opportunity. If you’re not into working for other people, you can try making an income through blogging. With a blog, you can sell products using sponsored posts and affiliate marketing or even sell your own products such as e-books and courses. This post has 50+ side hustle ideas.
If you’re not into writing, you can make money other ways: graphic designing, tutoring, heck, even cleaning people’s rooms can earn you a couple of bucks.
2) I have Multiple On-Campus Jobs
Having an on-campus job is one of the best resources colleges offers. Sure, not all of them pay well, but if you don’t have a car on campus and need a job that works around your schedule, on-campus jobs are the key.
I literally found my first (and favorite) on-campus job by walking up to a worker at the beginning of the year and asking if they’re hiring. The phrase “ask and you shall receive” has never been farther from the truth.
3) I Pay Monthly
One of my goals is to pay off my debt before I graduate. It’s definitely a slow process. It’s also one not everyone wants to suffer through while schooling, but it’s helped me make better spending choices. Since I have a goal to attain, I triple-think my grocery lists. You can simply google “monthly student loan repayment calculator”. I currently have used the monthly calendar offered by Finaid.org to see how much I need to pay every month to graduate debt free.
I’m gonna be honest: I haven’t been the greatest at sticking to this goal since I’m a junior and still have a long way to go, but I still try and play catch-up on months I have missed.
You can simply google “monthly student loan repayment calculator” to see how much you need to pay per month to graduate debt free. I currently have used the monthly calendar offered by Finaid.org. I’m gonna be honest: I haven’t been the greatest at sticking to this goal since I’m a junior and still have a long way to go, but I still try and play catch-up on months I have missed.
4) I Rarely Ever Go to the Clubs
If you’ve watched any of my youtube videos, you’ll know that clubbing and I are feuding like the families on Steve Harvey’s show. Here’s why.
Say you’re going out with your girls/guys to a club. You want to be hip and “have fun” so you need a couple of shots in your system.
You can either go splurge on the good quality alcohol at the club, which ranges to about $5-$20 for a tiny cup, or you can pre-game and buy cheap alcohol before you leave. Either way, you’re spending a couple of bucks on empty calories.
Now you gotta get to the venue via car, which requires gas money.
Then you gotta pay the admission fee. College students sometimes get discounts, but don’t expect to pay anything less than $5.
You dance for some time, but then you get hungry and wash down the alcohol with some fast food nearby even though you’ve already bought groceries a while back. Let’s say you spend $5 to conquer that hunger.
So for one night, you’ve spent about $15 dollars on a GOOD day.
Sure, that doesn’t sound like much, but if you do that every Saturday for a month, that’s $60 down the drain. That $60 could have been used to pay off some interest of your loans which, for most students, accumulates every.single.day.
Clubbing isn’t free, nor do I think it’s ever worth the money. Clubs should be attended sparingly. Got all A’s on your exam? Celebrate. It’s your birthday? Celebrate. But going to the club every day? The only person celebrating besides the bartender will be Sally Mae as she racks up interest dollars on your loan.
5) I Ask Around for Textbooks Before Buying My Own
The good thing about having an “uncompetitive, unwanted” major like public health is that most all your books are cheap. Sure, you won’t be making as much as a doctor nor will you get the same respect as a doctor, but who cares? At least your textbooks were cheaper!
But you want to know what’s even cheaper? Me. My public health books would cost $30-$80. But I REFUSED to buy them if I could borrow them from someone else. I would even take pictures of CHAPTERS–40-page chapters–before I even thought about buying a book.
One year, I even sat in the bookstore every Thursday before a quiz and read the chapter that was going to be on that quiz. But I do not advise this for everyone, especially because the bookstore owner started hiding the book since I wasn’t buying it. I looked like a total cheapskate, but hey, I saved money that would go to pay my monthly debt bill.
To start paying off your debt while you’re in college, you’ve got to know how to make money and save money at the same time. Make attainable saving goals and hold yourself accountable. And as always, think before you buy.
When did you start making payments on your student loan debt? What are practices you use today to help you pay it off?