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? If this sounds familiar, you’re likely suffering from student loan debt fatigue, also known as student loan exhaustion. Debt fatigue can sometimes feel soul-crushing and might leave you feeling like you should give up on repayment, leading to even further financial turmoil. But, with these tips on how to fix student loan fatigue, you can stay the course and keep your mind focused on becoming debt-free.
What is Debt Fatigue?
Debt fatigue is when you become overwhelmed with how much debt you’ve taken on, and the thought of repaying sounds overwhelming. Debt fatigue may lead students to give up on repaying their loans on time or at all, as they may feel disheartened that you’re not progressing toward paying off their debt.
Debt fatigue is especially common when the payments you make are only enough to cover interest, and it feels like your principal and overall balance are not going down. Debt fatigue can impact your mental health and happiness, but setting up a payment plan that fits your budget can help rebuild your confidence again.
Examples of Debt Fatigue
Let’s imagine you take out private undergraduate student loans to pay for a four-year college, and then you pursue an advanced degree funded by a private graduate student loan. After graduation, you may think about purchasing a car while also managing the credit card debt you racked up while in school. Sooner or later, this can start to compound and feel like an infinite loop of debt that becomes only harder to pay off. This pressure can weigh heavily on you, contributing even further to debt fatigue.
How to Fix Student Loan Debt Fatigue
Whether you have a student loan with a cosigner or student loans with no cosigner, debt fatigue can be a real struggle. Here are three ways to help you cure your debt fatigue and learn financial responsibility as a college student.
1. Make a Simple Plan (And Stick to It)
Budgets can seem overwhelming to create, but they don’t have to be. All you need are three things when putting together your budget:
- Required payments
- Everything else
Yes, it can be that simple. You will not be agonizing over every line item each month. Take care of the necessities and any bills, which can include as much as you’re comfortable with paying down your 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.
There are many ways you can go about setting up a budget. You can keep it old school with spreadsheets and paper planners or use more advanced apps like Quicken or Mint. Remember, complicated budget plans can play a big role in debt fatigue, so you need to set up a budget that works for you no matter what method you prefer.
2. Debt Snowballing
Once your budget is in place, you can prioritize how you plan to pay down your remaining debt. 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 the debt is clear, you take the money you would have used for the debt now paid off and apply it, and you can use any extra money to chip away at your smallest debt. This process continues until your payments toward your largest debt are making meaningful dents in your balance.
This sort of planning is not only effective at repaying your debt obligations, but it also provides a sense of accomplishment that will help to motivate you when the feeling of debt fatigue takes over. 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 make even the slightest debt fatigue worse.
3. Treat Yourself (When You’ve Met Your Goal Milestones)
It sounds counter-intuitive, but setting goals and not receiving any rewards may become draining. Setting goals is especially true when you take every spare dollar and use it to pay down your debts. It can feel discouraging when you see all the money you could have used for more exciting things (traveling, going to concerts, etc.) go to paying off a loan.
Tip: decrease your debt fatigue by learning more about avoiding overborrowing student loans and what that means for you.
To ensure that you stay on track with your budget, you need to reward yourself appropriately when reaching your milestones. If you like pampering yourself, get a manicure after you’ve paid off $1,000. If you like music, go to a concert for $5,000. If you love traveling, take a weekend trip after you pay off $7,500. It doesn’t matter what the reward is, as long as it motivates you to keep going.
Remember, Student Loan Fatigue Doesn’t Last Forever
Much like student loan debt, student loan fatigue can feel overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever, and while it may be overwhelming right now, those feelings will fade, especially when you follow our tips to help with student loan exhaustion. Give it a little bit of time, and you’ll see your debt start to go down!
Here at Ascent, we are here to help you find success during your academic journey and beyond. We are pleased to offer a variety of resources, blogs, and budgeting tips to help you achieve your financial goals and take on the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you deal with debt fatigue?
The best way to deal with debt fatigue is to have a simple plan you can stick to, use debt snowballing to repay your debts and get faster wins, and treat yourself to keep you motivated as you reach various goals while repaying your debt.
What are the causes of debt fatigue?
Debt fatigue occurs when borrowers don’t feel like they are making progress in repaying their loans, even when staying on top of their payments. Debt fatigue is especially common when a borrower’s payments are primarily toward interest rather than principal balances.
What are the negative effects of student loans?
While getting a student loan is an option to finance your education, it does add to your debt. The amount borrowed can lead to student loan debt fatigue, leading to giving up on repayment. These negatives can be addressed and overcome by establishing a solid repayment plan.