student loan procrastination

Putting an End to Student Loan Procrastination

Michael Lux Blog, Student Loans 2 Comments

In theory, it should be easy to avoid procrastination on your student loan issues.  After all, each day that passes means more interest and more debt.

Even though each day that passes literally costs money, many people still procrastinate when it comes to resolving student loan problems.  The excuses come pretty easy.

  •  I can just do it tomorrow.
  • They call daily, I’ll pick up the phone next time they call.
  • I need to wait until I’m in a better mood/frame of mind to deal with this.
  • Nothing changes if I just make the call tomorrow.
  • It’s not like my student loans are going anywhere.
  • It will be years, maybe decades, before this mess is resolved… there is no reason to be in a hurry.

The excuse to delay dealing with your student loans for just 24 hours are literally limitless.  The problem is compounded when you think about the stress, frustration, and disappointment that seems to accompany any lender call.

When it comes to beating student loan procrastination, different approaches work for different people.  These three tricks can get you over the hump.


Whether it be a milkshake, craft beer, or a trip to the movies; everyone has treats in their life that they enjoy.  Pick one of your favorites and make it conditional upon getting your student loans addressed.

Better yet, get others involved.  Tell your coworkers, roommate, or significant other that you won’t be enjoying any ice cream until you take care of you student loans.  By getting others involved, the reward becomes more real, and they can keep you accountable.  If the only way to satisfy your sweet tooth is to get your student loans fixed, you will find the urgency you need to get it done.

The Snail Approach

Even if it just takes a phone call or three to address your student loan issues, it can seem like a huge step.  The stress of the call, the frustration of being on hold, and the fear of bad news make any student loan call an ordeal of sorts.

Tell yourself, “I won’t be calling today, or even tomorrow, but I will do something everyday until I call.”

Even the slightest bit of prep can earn you a break.  Perhaps one day you review your budget in anticipation of asking for a need based rate reduction.  If you are looking to refinance your loans at better rates, you can spend a day researching student loan consolidation companies.  If you are feeling really lazy you can look up the phone number for the company you need to call and store it some place handy.

The key is to break the process into tiny tasks that are easy to do.  At a certain point you will be sick of doing little stuff daily and just want to be done with it.  The big advantage is that you are making procrastination productive.  By the time you call, you will have a ton of prep work taken care of and things will go better for you.

Do the math

You may realize that each day you wait does technically cost you money, but you may also realize that daily figure could be no more than a dollar or two.  If waiting a day costs you $1.32, you might think that skipping a day for less than the price of a double cheeseburger is an acceptable alternative.

While that may be true, the numbers do add up after even a week or two.  If you are looking to motivate yourself, just keep a running tab on the cost of your procrastination.  A couple bucks may not seem like a big deal, but soon enough you will be saying, “I can’t believe I wasted all of that money procrastinating… it ends today.”

Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter how you find the motivation to deal with your student loans, the important thing is that you actually deal with them.

  • Three great ways to “trick” ourselves into stopping procrastination. I use a form of bribary all the time called reward substitution. I.e. doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Examples: Only get to have beer or bourbon after I workout. I started watching Breaking Bad while I was studying for the CPA exam; so some saturday and sundays I would make myself a promise: If I study for 6 hours I can binge watch Breaking Bad the rest of the night.
    The anticipation of the reward gets us excited about things we never were excited about.

    • Great idea Luke! Being able to binge watch Breaking Bad is a great reward and I can see it keeping me motivated to get 6 hours of studying done.

      Thanks for the comment!