Are you feeling overwhelmed by student loan debt? You’re not alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of inventive ways to start freeing up extra cash that you can use to pay down those student loans.
1. Try Your Hand at Freelancing
Everybody has a unique talent. What’s yours? Whether you’re a gifted artist or have more practical experience (such as mowing lawns or cleaning houses), there’s probably a demand for your unique skills.
Freelancing is an excellent opportunity to brainstorm and get creative. If there’s something you’re good at and that you enjoy doing, all that’s left to do is find a way to monetize your skill.
What are some of the most in-demand freelance skills in 2020? Here’s a full list, but note that some of the top gifts people are looking (and willing to pay) for include:
- Graphic design
- Digital/social media marketing
- Writing and editing
- Customer service
There are plenty of online platforms that allow you to advertise your services locally or even to a global audience. And of course, as a freelancer, you enjoy the freedom of choosing your hours and working on your terms!
The amount of cash you can expect to bring in as a freelancer will vary, depending on your exact skills and how much time you’re investing. According to a Payoneer survey, however, the average freelancer working online can expect to make around $21 per hour. Not bad for something you can do in your spare time!
2. Bring the Restaurant Home to You
How often are you dining out or picking up carry-out each week? If you’re relying on a restaurant to do your cooking even twice a week, you could save more than $1,000 a year by cooking those meals at home instead.
This isn’t to say that you should never treat yourself to a dinner out with friends or that you need to cook every meal from scratch 100% of the time, but making a conscious effort to eat out less and cook in more can free up a lot of money in your budget. Meanwhile, you can make some lasting memories in the kitchen with your loved ones. It’s a win-win!
One of the biggest challenges people run into when eating out less is budgeting their time to cook at home. If you anticipate this being an issue for you, consider setting aside an hour or two once a week to “meal prep” by cutting up vegetables and preparing other ingredients you’ll need for your recipes. Prepping will make cooking during the week much more feasible!
3. Thrift Your Wardrobe
Staying on top of the latest fashions can wreak havoc on your bank account and make it harder to get ahead on your student loans. Fortunately, saving some money on your wardrobe doesn’t have to mean looking frumpy. All it takes is a little careful thrifting to slash your clothing and accessory budget!
By shopping at local thrift stores rather than buying your clothes brand new, you can find unique and even vintage items for half the price (or less!). You’ll also get to feel good about knowing that you’re keeping clothing items and related waste out of landfills by buying secondhand.
Not sure where to begin with thrifting? Start by taking inventory of your current wardrobe and make a list of the items you need. From there, you can save yourself from feeling overwhelmed as you scan the racks at your local thrift store. While shopping, keep in mind that most everyday clothing can be inexpensively altered if it doesn’t fit perfectly—so take advantage of that bargain-priced blazer, even if you’ll have to spend a few bucks to have it tailored.
For example, if you find a great pair of thrift jeans at a $5 bargain, but they’re just a little too long, there’s a good chance you can get them hemmed for as little as $10. $15 for a custom-tailored pair of jeans? Not bad at all! Spending your money on alterations for your existing wardrobe rather than on new clothes (especially if you need to go up or down a size) can also save you a nice chunk of change.
4. Audit Your Spending
When was the last time you analyzed your spending? If you don’t already have a budget in place, now is the time to create one. In simplest terms, a realistic budget should start with your monthly take-home income minus your monthly expenses.
Once you know where you stand, you can make tweaks to reduce your monthly spending on both essentials and non-essentials. From negotiating a lower rate on your phone bill to getting rid of subscription services you no longer use, these cuts can add up big time. And from there, you can use the extra money to pay down your student loans. When making payments, make sure you’re making your money work for you by utilizing helpful tips.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few creative ways to pay off loans without necessarily making drastic changes to your lifestyle. From there, you can tackle your student loan payment plan with greater confidence and possibly even pay your loans off a little earlier in the process!