Here are 3 things I’d change if I could do it all over again with my student loans.
1. Apply for college scholarships while in high school
If I could do it again, I would’ve applied for countless scholarships as a junior or senior in high school to help me pay for the cost of college. I should’ve done something for my future self; something to make my student loans a little more manageable when I eventually graduated from college. But unfortunately, applying for scholarships was the last thing on my mind at 17 years old. I didn’t care how I was going to pay for college. It’ll be easy, I thought, no big deal.
2. Look to see how much I owe for my college education as soon as I graduate (the sooner the better!)
Flash forward four years, and I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and owe $60,000 in student loans. I still remember the day I finally looked at my student loan amount for the first time. When I saw the total amount, I was shocked. I was so naïve that I hardly expected to see a number higher than 20K. $60,000? I owe $60,000? How did this happen? How am I supposed to pay this off? Luckily I had a job lined up after graduation, and like most other college grads with student loans, I had six months from graduation day to work and save money til my first student loan payment was due.
3. Save money before my first payment, so I could put a larger amount down and make a dent in the total amount owed
So did I save money in those 6 months to prepare for my first payment? Nope. I had no plans to prepare for my student loan payments and no idea how much I owed until the week before my first payment was due.
I really do wish I had saved up some of my money during my grace period so that I could put a good chunk of change toward my debt once my student loan payments came knocking.
It took me a while to really get serious about my student loans. I didn’t just see how much I owed and immediately vow to take on my student loans from the start.
In the time between realizing my student loan amount and getting serious about it, I learned a lot about money. Most of the learning came from making mistakes – an overdraft fee here and there, interest charges, thinking I could spend $50 at the bar every weekend night, putting countless flights for trips on my credit card, and the list goes on. Not once in this time did I think to myself: Wow, my net worth is negative $60,000. What am I doing?
But this part, I wouldn’t change. I needed this time to learn and realize that my bad habits and careless spending were not going to help me get out of debt. The only thing that would help me get out of debt was a serious look at how I spent my money. If I wanted to be free of the burden of debt, I needed to put more money toward my student loan payments, and less money toward other things like eating out and shopping for clothes.
Other posts you might like:
- How I Paid Off $60k of Student Loan Debt in 4.5 Years: A Timeline
- Paying Off Debt? 2 Books You Must Read for Motivation
- 17 Creative Strategies to Pay Off Your Debt
- 3 Major Life Changes I Made on My Debt Free Journey