Oh, student loans. Most of us couldn’t have graduated school without them. Student loans are wonderful and terrible at the same time. They help carry us through our higher education, from a financial perspective, yet they are a cause of stress and anxiety once our higher education ends. If you have student loans, whether you are paying on them or not, you likely have experienced some form of anxiety. If you have student loan anxiety, you are not alone.
According to a survey done by Student Loan Hero, “More than 61 percent of respondents said they fear their student loan debt worries are spiraling out of control — and more than 70 percent reported suffering from headaches due to the stress of it.” While you can’t get out of paying your student loans, at some point or another, you can control your student loan anxiety and focus on budgeting your money properly. I’m going to share how you can do just that.
Understand what you owe
It doesn’t matter what kind of debt you have, the most important thing you can do is understand what you owe. Make a list of all your student loan payments, who the lender is, what the interest rate is, what the monthly payment is, and when the loan is expected to be paid off.
I suggest putting this information in a spreadsheet. It will be easier to keep track of and can keep you organized. You will instantly feel less anxiety when you know exactly what you are working with. As you pay on your student loans, you can create new spreadsheets to track the balance. It will also make you feel better to know that you are making progress with your payments.
Be organized with all of your documents
Having a spreadsheet that includes all of your loans is one way to stay organized, but it is not the only way. You also want to make sure your student loan documents are in one place. If you already have a financial filing system, you may already have your student loan documents organized.
If not, I suggest purchasing a few file folders and compiling every single document. Create a folder for each loan (or lender) and put all correspondence from that loan/lender into its own folder. You never know when you will need to refer back to any information they may have sent you.
Start paying, even if the loans are deferred
If your student loan payments are currently deferred, because you are in school or because you don’t make enough money, that doesn’t mean you can’t make payments. In fact, it will help you significantly by making whatever payment you can. Even if it’s as little as $10 each month, making payments towards your deferred student loans will start reducing the amount of principal and interest you owe.
Don’t worry, making small payments while your loans are deferred won’t pull them out of deferment. If you can muster up money for a weekly Starbucks, you can muster up a small student loan payment.
Talk to your (serious) significant other about your situation
If you are married or in a serious relationship, it can be helpful to get your negative feelings about student loans off your chest. Share with your spouse or significant other how these loans are making you feel. Acknowledging and admitting your feelings will make your anxiety lessen.
It will also help your significant other understand what you are going through. You never know what guidance or assistance they may be able to provide. Plus, you are no longer dealing with your anxiety alone. If you don’t have a significant other, consider seeing a therapist, or sharing with a close family member. It’s not good to keep your negative feelings bottled up inside.
Be smart with your money by using a budget
I can guarantee you this – if you have student loan anxiety, but have not rhyme or reason for how you spend your money, your anxiety is probably a lot worse than it should be. If you aren’t being smart with your money, it’s going to resonate with your feelings about your student loan debt.
Make yourself feel better, and make your situation better by being smart with your money. It all starts with a budget. Your budget will show you how to properly spend your money. You may even be able to find ways of putting more towards your student loan payments.
Look for ways to reduce your payments
Is consolidating or refinancing your student loans an option? If you have been good about paying your debts and have a good credit score, you may be able to reduce the length of your student loans or reduce the payment amount. Either scenario will help you save in interest, in the long run.
Don’t simply accept your student loans for what they are, diligently look for ways you can reduce your payments, or the amount you pay over the term of the loan. Are there any forgiveness programs you may qualify for? Do your research and see what options are available to help you.
Related: 8 Tips for Paying Off Student Loans
Again, student loan anxiety is extremely common. However, your student loans don’t define you. You CAN get out of student loan debt. While it may not be quick or easy, it is possible. You have to help yourself though. Do what you can to get a handle on your loans. You are in control. What negative feelings do you have about student loans? How do you keep your documents and payments organized? Share what you are going through by leaving a comment below.