*Feel free to laugh in my face if I ever tell you I'm going to blog consistently.*
Can we talk about student loans? Most people I know have them, and whether they owe $5,000 or $50,000 or $150,000, they all feel this burden in their daily lives. Most of the time I joke with people that I'll die of old age before my student loans are paid off. I also get frustrated when I think about all the things I'd be able to do if I didn't have to make these payments every single month. Things like buying a house, or take a trip to Europe, or invest more for my retirement.
In my years of paying on my student loans, I've learned a lot. I've learned that you have to just make the payments every month and be done with it - don't dwell on it or you'll make yourself crazy wondering how you'll ever pay it off. I've learned that people have very different definitions of what is "a lot" in terms of student loan debt. For example, a friend told me how hard it was to make the payments on her husband's loans, and his balance is 10% of mine.
I've also learned a lot about ways to make the payments a little easier. In some cases, people may be eligible to have their loans forgiven entirely. That sounds great, in theory, until you realize that most people don't qualify. For example, I work for a non-profit organization, which should qualify me for forgiveness of my student loans after so many years of service, but I work for a 501(c)7, which is the wrong kind of non-profit, so I'm not eligible. Sigh.
Refinancing is something I've learned a lot about and have actually done twice now. A few years ago, I refinanced my private student loans. As a result, I was able to lower my monthly payments and drastically reduce my interest rate.
Here are my tips for loan refinancing:
- Shop around for the best rates. There are many websites that will help you do this, including my favorite, Credible (more on them in a minute).
- Take advantage of auto-pay discounts - many lenders will reduce your interest rate by .25% by setting up automatic payments each month. This also prevents you from missing a payment (which could damage your credit score)!
- Pay attention to the length of the loan and choose one that fits your budget. This might mean taking a longer loan that has a lower monthly payment, or choosing a shorter loan but knowing you'll have to tighten your purse strings for a while to pay it off sooner.
- Take advantage of referral bonuses and get some extra cash money while you're refinancing.
- Consider adding a cosigner - this may open up even better interest rates for you.
As promised, let's talk a little more about Credible. This isn't a sponsored post - I receive nothing from them for writing about this, but I want to share this information with others. However, there are referral links in this post. If you use them to refinance through Credible, you and I will BOTH get $250!
First, Credible is not a lender. Instead, they will help you shop for rates from many lenders all at once. This will save you so much time! From there, Credible makes it easy for you to submit your loan application to the actual lender that you select. I am so glad I found this site when I was first refinancing because they gave me so much helpful information about the whole process. I needed a cosigner, and Credible emailed him (thanks, Dad!) directly and gave him the link to securely upload his documentation to be included with my loan application. There are other great websites out there that do this loan shopping for you, but personally, I was able to find the best rates on Credible.
They have an awesome referral program as well - if a friend refinances after using your unique referral link, you BOTH get $250! Who doesn't want an extra $250 just for helping a friend out? If you have student loans (and again, who doesn't?), I encourage you to check out Credible and please use my referral link to help a sister out!
I am happy to answer questions people have about student loans (and if I don't know the answer, I will help you find it!). Comment below if you've ever refinanced your loans and share what your tips and tricks!