Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This year instead of just wearing green, how about you celebrate by making a plan to save some green — dollars. We’re talking about dollars (for those of you who started your morning with a green beer and have gotten a little slow on the uptake).
Student loan debt may have you feeling pretty unlucky these days. That’s understandable. Nobody would enter a raffle for a big ‘ol pot of bills.
But the good news is that you don’t have to rely on luck to create a better situation for your future with those loans. No matter what your balance is or what your current income level is, there’s something on this list that will help you spend less on your student loans. So here goes.
Enroll in autopay
I’m hesitant to even share this one because most of you are gonna think, Come on. Is this list for real? I enrolled in autopay the minute I started paying back my loans.
I know, I know. But I have to say it for that one person who hasn’t heard about autopay and is out there unwittingly paying that extra .25%. No one wants to leave that person behind, right?
Pay an extra $1 every day
And now you’re mad because I said this was about spending less, and here I am telling you to pay extra. Every single day.
Hear me out.
Imagine someone hired you an assistant — maybe for your job, maybe for your life, maybe for both. At first, you’re thinking, this is not as helpful as I thought it would be. Everything takes twice as long because you have to train someone else to do it.
You have to take time to even figure out how to explain your tasks to someone else so they can take them over. It was supposed to be helpful, and now it’s added more work.
Until a few weeks in, and something magical happens. Your assistant does all the tasks you asked them to flawlessly. You feel an easing of tension. Then a couple months in, something even more magical happens. Your assistant anticipates an issue you hadn’t even seen coming, saving you a few hours of work.
You put in the time up front, and now you’re seeing a return on that investment. Your assistant is saving you literal hours of time every week.
Every day, you thank your past self for pushing through the hard early days so you could get to this point.
So what does that all have to do with paying an extra $1 a day on your student loans? (And when is someone going to get you an assistant?)
Paying extra on your student loans can be tough in the beginning. You’re frustrated that you have these monthly payments in the first place. Putting extra towards them might mean cutting something else out or being a bit more careful with your money each month. It may feel like you’re doing a lot of hard work for nothing.
And then something magical will happen. Well, actually two magical things will happen.
First, you’ll start to see your loan balance drop, and you’ll see your payoff date move closer. That will be beautiful.
Second, you’ll begin to feel proud of yourself — like really proud. Instead of being overwhelmed and dragged down by your loans, you’ll start feeling like Damn, I am killing these loans. When did I get so good?
And you’ll be right.
The easiest way to actually make this magic happen is to sign up for the Daily Dolr. You link your student loan accounts and tell the app how much you want to take out each day — could be $1, could be $5, could be $10 if you’re ready to make some serious progress.
The Daily Dolr takes the money out of your account once a week and pays it straight to your lender. Done and dusted.
Get someone else to pay your student loans
I’m not joking with this one. There are legit opportunities for other people to put money toward your student loans.
Let’s talk about three of them.
First, student loan rewards programs. Maybe you have a rewards credit card or you’ve participated in a loyalty program where you get cash back or points for every purchase. This is the same deal — but for student loan repayment.
For every dollar you spend with a participating retailer, you get a little money put directly toward your student loan balance. Pretty sweet, yeah? If that sounds good, don’t miss out on Shop & Pay.
Second, student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs). It used to be that only giant employers offered help repaying employees’ student loans. As the national student loan balance has ballooned, more and more employers of every size are offering the benefit.
And if your employer doesn’t have an LRAP, don’t despair. They may never have considered it, or they may not realize they can right-size it for their organization. Ask whether they’d be open to discussing it, and explain why it’s important to you (and possibly others in your organization). Then point them to Dolr’s resources for employers so we can help them create an LRAP that works for your company.
Third, friends and family. If you’re lucky enough to have folks who love you and want to give you gifts, ask them to hold off on the sweater or the new bag or the coffee subscription this year. Instead, ask that they put some money toward your student loans instead.
So often people want to get us something we’ll really love, but they’re not sure what that is. If the feeling that you’re being closer to debt freedom makes you happy, then helping with your loans will make them happy.
See: Average Law School Debt: What Lawyers Owe and How to Pay It Off Faster
If you’re already three beers in and ready for a parade, then bookmark this one and come back to it tomorrow. Just don’t forget that the steps you take today can make your loan future so much brighter (and less expensive). A great place to start is the Daily Dolr.
Contributed by Katie Taylor.