The beginning of the new year is an exciting time for a number of reasons. At the top of the list is the fact that 2014 is a blank slate, with seemingly endless possibilities. The key to making the new year a great one is finding a way to turn the endless possibilities into exciting realities.
For many recent graduates, paying off their student loans would be a huge accomplishment in 2014. For some, it may seem like a winning Powerball ticket is the only way these loans will ever disappear. Unfortunately, we cannot all win the Powerball, so many of us will have to find alternative ways to meet this goal.
Another unfortunate reality is that most people will not be able to pay off their student loans in full this year. However, before I kill all your optimism for the new year, there is good news. Anybody can improve their student debt situation in 2014. Even if you can pay it off, you can make sure that on this date in 2015, you are in a much better position.
Some student loan goals to consider for 2014:
- Make this the year you get one of your student loans paid off. It can be your smallest one, or the one with the highest interest, but just pick one to eliminate. Keep up with payments on your others, and put together a plan to eliminate one of your loans.
- 2014 can be the year you got your loans in order. Are you behind on your payments? Delinquent? Do you even know the status of all your loans? Sometimes just getting started can be the hardest part. Use this new year as an opportunity to get a fresh start on your loans. Call your lenders. Work with them to put together a plan that works for you. Find a way to make sure that you don’t have these same questions hanging over your head in 2015!
- Use this year as a chance to go 12 for 12. If you have missed payments in the past, set yourself a goal of not missing or having one late payment in 2014. Lenders love the fine print that costs you money, don’t give them the opportunity to charge you anything extra this year.
- Find your milestone. Everybody is in a different situation. Find a goal that is appropriate for you and commit to it. If paying off your loans in full can’t happen, come up with something creative. Maybe you could pay $10,000 worth of student loan debt, or maybe $5,000. The number doesn’t really matter. Just pick something that is an appropriate challenge and go for it. Any goal met, regardless of how trivial it may seem, is satisfying if you put time and effort into meeting it.
How do you reach your goals?
- Plan ahead. Don’t let the fact that you have to pay rent this month be the “surprise” that throws you off your game. Any financial goal is much easier to meet if you budget first.
- Don’t keep your goals a secret. Tell your significant other, your family, and your friends. They can cheer for you as you work towards it, keep you honest, and help celebrate when you get there. Flying solo on something like this makes it much more difficult.
- Write it down. It seems cheesy, but it works. Writing something down makes it a tangible thing, and it makes it seem more real. If you are trying to pay off x dollars, make a chart on your wall and color it in as you get closer to x dollars. It works for fundraisers, why can’t it work for you?
- Don’t procrastinate. The importance of this couldn’t be more obvious when it comes to student loans. Because of interest, your debt is literally growing every day you do nothing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many unused resources are out there, because nobody ever asked for them. The worst anybody can say in these situations is no. The upside is huge. Ask your boss for a raise or for loan repayment assistance. Call your lender and ask for lower rates. If you have questions about student loans, send me an email. Speaking up may not solve all of your problems immediately, but it can’t hurt.
- Believe in yourself. A positive outlook will get you so much further. Not only is being miserable a miserable experience, but it gets in the way of achieving your goals.
Happy New Year!!!