‘Tis the season to eat, drink, be merry – and pay off your student loans? This December, instead of focusing completely on buying presents, feasting with your loved ones, and popping champagne, it’s a smart idea to steal just a few moments away from the festivities to assess your student loan debt and ensure you’re on track to a secure financial future in 2016 and beyond.
1. Take a look at your finances.
This December, it’s important to honestly assess your finances to make sure you’re making smart decisions. For example, are you spending most of your money on restaurants, clothes, and extravagant vacations – rather than growing your savings account and paying off your loans? If so, commit to cutting back on life’s luxuries and instead give yourself the gift of financial responsibility moving forward.
2. Use extra cash to make prepayments on your loans.
Almost all lenders allow you to make additional payments on your loans, which will ensure you pay off your debt more quickly while spending less in interest over the life of your loan. We recommend budgeting prepayments into your holiday spending and putting any cash gifts or bonuses you receive towards your loans. Just be sure to ask your lender to apply the prepayments to your principal balance—not your upcoming interest payments.
3. Revisit your student loans.
Take some time this holiday season to revisit the status of your student loans. Look at what your remaining balance is and what you can expect to pay in the coming year. Determine if you’re satisfied with your current interest rate and monthly payments, or if you’d like to make an adjustment.
We also recommend enrolling in automatic loan payments, if you haven’t already. Not only will this ensure that you never miss a payment, but some lenders will even give you a discount on your interest rate if your loan payments are automatically debited from your bank account.
4. Refinance your student loans.
Is there any greater gift than a better interest rate, lower monthly payments, and a shorter repayment term on your student loans? We think not. As long as you have good credit and a steady income, it’s in your best interest to use a service like LendKey as soon as possible to refinance your federal and private student loans. Doing so can potentially save you thousands of dollars – and the sooner you act, the more you’ll save.