In theory, it should be easy to end procrastination on your student loan issues. After all, each day that passes means more interest and more debt.
In reality, overcoming procrastination on student debt can be a huge challenge. Managing student loans can be overwhelming and frustrating. Add rude or unhelpful loan servicers to the equation, and it is easy to understand why many borrowers delay addressing their debt.
The good news is that you can break the cycle.
Recognize the Student Loan Procrastination Excuses
Putting an end to student loan procrastination is hard. There are a ton of excuses to justify a delay.
- 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.
Easy excuses can lead to more complicated roadblocks. Delays can cause accumulation of interest, late fees, and increasingly hostile collection calls.
To end student loan procrastination, borrowers must first identify the excuses they use.
Bribe Yourself Into Taking Action
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 your 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.
Rewarding yourself for something as simple as making a phone call might seem like overkill. However, this attitude underestimates the crippling nature of student debt for many borrowers. If procrastination is a genuine challenge to repaying student loans, end it by giving yourself a real reward.
The Snail Approach
If you are not ready to make the call to your lender, take small steps each day towards your goal.
Tell yourself, “I won’t be calling today, or even tomorrow, but I will do something productive, each day, until I call.”
Even the slightest bit of prep can count as a step forward. 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 refinance companies. If you are feeling really lazy you can look up the phone number for the company you need to call and store it someplace 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 of 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.”
The unknown is scary.
A classic mistake made by many borrowers is assuming they are screwed because they can’t pay the first bill. In the case of federal loans, the first bill is based upon the most aggressive repayment plan. Borrowers have multiple options for much lower payments.
The more you learn about student debt, the more options you will realize you have.
Once your mountain of student debt starts to feel more manageable, it will be easier to end the student loan procrastination.
Simple Steps to End Student Loan Procrastination
- Learn about the benefits of federal student loans. Most student loans are federal, and these loans have the best borrower protections.
- Take a look at the options for lower monthly payments. Borrowers can preview monthly payments on a variety of repayment plans using the Department of Education’s Loan Simulator.
- Think about the many ways to make repayment easier. Borrowers with federal and private loans have over a dozen different ways to get lower interest rates on their debt.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Paying back student loans is already difficult. Beating yourself up over mistakes you might have made won’t help anything.