If you have student loans, you've been watching and reading about the possibility of debt relief. There is so much talk and controversy around what President Biden will do. All of the back and forth and digging to find out what is fact versus hearsay is enough to keep you on edge.
With August fast approaching and us still not having an answer as to whether all, some, or none of our student loan debt will be forgiven, it can leave us in a state of limbo. I get it. I've been there for the better side of the repayment freeze. However, I managed to snap out of it and started making some progress toward lowering my account balance. You know, just in case things don't go how we want them to.
I will let you in on how you can start preparing for when the repayment freeze comes to its "natural" end.
1. Make a Plan
Say there is no or only a partial amount of your student loan balance forgiven. Do you know what your next move is? It's been over two years since repayments have been frozen, and it's only normal to have gotten used to not having a chunk of your paycheck eaten up by your loans. Around 60% of people with student loan debt did not make any payments during the freeze. A considerable percentage of people may have difficulty readjusting once payments start again. Do not let yourself be one of those people.
Start by knowing which repayment option you are going with. Are you going to keep your original plan? Switch to an income-driven plan? Or lower your monthly payments by paying them back over a more extended period? The choice is up to you, but you must pick one and know your plan.
2. Start Making Payments Now
The best way to get into the habit of something is by doing it. During these upcoming months, start paying off your debt at your chosen rate. Doing this can make sure you can handle the expense of paying loans once again. If you project that you will be unable to handle your full payment, you should contact your student loan provider in advance. That way, you can work out a repayment plan.
There are going to be a lot of people calling their loan provider come August and September. The last thing you want is for your account to become delinquent as you wait to get in contact for help. It is always better to address a foreseeable problem early on rather than wait and end up in over your head.
Plus, by getting in the groove of making payments, you will be taking advantage of the interest-free aspect of the freeze. Not having to chase after paying down your interest before attacking your balance is a relief.
3. Redo Your Budget
Over the past couple of years, you've gotten used to the "extra" room in your budget if you haven't been making payments. Now is the time for you to rework your budget to include your student loan payments. You want to visualize what areas you can cut back on to make your payments on time.
Whether that means cutting back on recreational things, take out ( those delivery fees and tips add up), or putting a little less in your savings account. When you make these sacrifices, you have to have the mindset that each payment you make will bring you closer to the financial freedom of your dreams.
If you need help figuring out your new budget, you can get a budgeting app. All of your spendings can be logged and tracked on your phone. If an app doesn't suit you, talk to a financial expert to guide you towards healthy spending habits.
4. Be Proactive
This tip can tie into making a plan. You want to get ahead of your loans before repayments start. The only way to do that is by taking action.
Call your loan provider to see how much your monthly payment will be. Afterward, analyze if your current financial situation can handle that payment. If not, see if you can change your payment plan or pick up a side hustle to bring you enough income to cover the payment. There are still a couple of months to figure everything out, so don't stress if you do not have all the answers this second.
There are resources out there to help you, but don't wait until the last minute to seek them out.
Knowing that your student loan payments will most likely become a reality again can be stressful. There are still a couple of things up in the air that can make waiting around seem like a good choice. However, there are several things you can do to help your payments restart smoothly.
Do not let your loans walk all over you due to a lack of preparation. So be proactive, make a plan, redo your budget, and start making payments now if possible. Becoming debt-free is possible, and you can do it!
Have any other tips on how you're preparing to repay your student loans come August? Go ahead and share them in the comments so we all can learn something from each other. Plus, I would love to hear from you!