Does paying an extra $10,000 on your student loans seem like an impossible feat? While that number might seem out of reach right now, it’s probably not as far-fetched as you think.
In reality, paying off your debt comes down to two basic things: short-term sacrifices for long-term gain and super simple math. The math never changes — it’s always income minus expenses, and what’s left over you can save or use for debt repayment. Where people struggle is with the sacrifice.
Call it hustle. Call it work. Call it whatever you want, but if you want to make a huge dent in your debt, you have to put the effort in.
Ready to attack your debt? Here are five ways to kill $10,000 in student loans this year.
1. Create Your Debt Repayment Plan
When you look at your target number of $10,000, it seems like a lot of money. But if your goal is to pay that amount off in a year you only need to send in an extra $833 per month. That number is completely doable — even if it’s not in your budget right now.
If you have multiple student loans, you also need to figure out how you’ll approach your debt pay-off plan. There are two debt pay-off options that work quite well: the debt snowball and the debt avalanche.
The debt snowball focuses on paying off your debts from lowest balance to highest balance, providing quick wins and motivation. The debt avalanche focuses on paying debts from those with the highest interest rates to the lowest interest rates, making the most sense mathematically. Each method has its pros and cons.
2. Pick Up a Side Hustle
Let’s say that you have zero wiggle room in your budget on the expense side. You have a job, but it only covers your basics and doesn’t leave any room for extra payments toward your student loans. This is where a side hustle comes in.
Remember, the math never changes — income minus expenses. If you can’t cut expenses, you need to boost your income.
There are countless ways for you to earn that extra money. Here are just a few examples:
- You could write 16 articles per month at $50 each to earn an extra $800.
- You could manage a business’ social media for seven hours per week at $30 per hour.
- You could test approximately 80 websites at $10 each.
- You could clean four houses per week at $50 per house.
- You could drive for Uber or Lyft for 10 to 15 hours per week — basically just the weekends — to earn about $800 per month, according to The Rideshare Guy.
- If you hate all of these ideas, search for side hustle ideas.
Your ability to successfully earn money on the side will depend on how much time you want to invest every week, which will vary from person to person. If you have 10 to 20 hours per week, you can easily earn that extra money to put on your debt. And don’t think that 10 to 20 hours is crazy. You work 40 hours, you can sleep for 40 hours, so what are you doing with the remaining 80 hours left in your week?
Let’s also not forget just picking up extra hours at your current employer, if that’s an option and is something you’re interested in.
3. Look for Alternative Housing Solutions
One of the biggest expenses each month for most people is, without a doubt, housing. If you can get creative with your housing situation for a year — like living with your parents or a roommate — then you can come up with the extra payments you need without ever having to worry about earning extra money.
Even if getting a roommate to help split the bill or living with your parents doesn’t completely free up enough money, it certainly will help.
4. Cut Your Utility Bills
While we’re on the subject of expenses, let’s talk about your cell phone bill. For many adults, utilities like cable, internet and cell phones are the next leading expenses behind housing. But let’s face it, we do rely on these services. But if you really want to make a dent in your student loan debt, you have to sacrifice.
That means dropping cable TV 100 percent. It means looking at getting the cheapest internet plan you’re able to. And it means looking at what you really need in a cell phone. If you have a contract on your phone, chances are you’re paying at least double of what you should be.
You can easily lower your cell phone bill by looking at no-contract options.
5. Find Accountability
Accountability is huge no matter what kind of goal you’re trying to reach. And when it comes to paying off debt, you’re going to need that extra motivation.
Find a friend who has a similar goal and make a vow to check in with each other on a regular basis. You can also download a debt payoff app so that you can look at your progress regularly.
And remember, while your journey to paying off extra debt seems monumentous at first, all you need to do is send in an extra $833 per month to pay off that $10,000. It will require some short-term sacrifices for long-term gain, but you can do it.
Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans in One Year