3 Ways to Address Student Loan Debt Fatigue
Feeling emotionally drained, weary, or burnt out when it comes to your student loans? Do you see no end in sight to your monthly payments? You’re likely suffering from debt fatigue.
Debt fatigue occurs when you are generally exhausted from the effort debt management has put you through. You’ve paid so much, but it’s still not enough so you start to lose hope. Here are three ways to help you cure your case of debt fatigue and learn financial responsibility as a college student.
1. Make a Simple Plan (And Stick To It)
There are many recommendations on how to set up a budget. You can go old school with spreadsheets and paper planners, more technically advanced with computer programs like Quicken, or a mobile app like Mint. Complicated budget plans can play a big role in debt fatigue, so no matter what method you prefer, you need to set up a budget that works for you and stick to it.
Budgets can seem overwhelming to create, but they don’t have to be. All you really need are three things when putting together your budget:
- Required payments
- Everything else
Yes, it can be that simple. No more agonizing over every line item each month. Take care of the necessities, which need to include as much as you’re comfortable with putting toward that looming debt. Then put money away in savings and use your remaining money on whatever you want. The simpler the budget, the more likely a person is to stick to it.
2. Debt Snowballing
Once your budget is in place, you can prioritize how you pay down the debt that has been hanging over you. Debt snowballing has become popularized by Dave Ramsey. The idea is that you make minimum payments on your larger debts and put any extra money you have toward your smallest debt first. Once that debt is paid off, you take the money you would have used for the debt now paid off and apply it, and any extra money you have that month, and use it to accelerate the repayment of your new smallest debt. This process continues until your payments toward your largest debt are making meaningful dents in your balance.
This process is not only effective at repaying your debt obligations, but it also provides you with feelings of accomplishment that help to motivate you out of that debt fatigue you may be feeling. If you were to concentrate the extra money toward the largest debt you have, you’d need to wait a lot longer to feel any meaningful results that can compound the effects of debt fatigue.
3. Treat Yourself (When You’ve Met Your Goal Milestones)
It sounds counter-intuitive, but setting goals and not receiving any rewards will become draining. This is especially true when you are taking every spare dollar and using it to pay down your debts. It can feel discouraging when you see all the money you could have used for more exciting things go to paying off a loan, which then exacerbates the effects of debt fatigue. Tip: decrease your debt fatigue by learning more about how to avoid overborrowing student loans and what that means for you.
To really ensure that you stay on track with paying off your loans, you need to reward yourself appropriately when you reach your goal milestones. If you like pampering yourself, get a manicure after you’ve paid off $1,000. If you like music, go to a concert after $5,000. If you love traveling, take a weekend trip after $7,500 is paid off. It doesn’t matter what the reward is, as long as it motivates you to keep going.
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