Keeping your credit score up can sometimes be a struggle. Making wise money choices in all aspects of your life will go a long way to making that easier. Debt, late payments, and failing to budget are definite credit killers, and setting yourself on the right path should start the moment you have money to spend.
For recent college grads with student loans, it’s imperative that you manage the repayment of student loans to the best of your ability. But how? When you’re just out of school, the amount you owe can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you get off on the right foot.
- Set up auto pay. When you set your loan payment to be taken from your checking account automatically each month, you are far less likely to miss a payment and incur late fees. Just make sure you have the money in your account on the day the payment is being deducted.
- Consider consolidation. If you have multiple loans, see if you can benefit from combining them through a refinance. This can reduce your monthly payment and help your cash flow. You may also be able to get a lower interest rate. In most cases, you won’t want to combine private and federal loans together, but private can go with private and federal with federal. Do your homework and see what makes sense.
- Be strategic with your money. Experts recommend that your first priority with your paycheck should be to put money into your employer’s 401(k) plan up to the maximum your employer will match. Otherwise you’re throwing away free money. Saving for retirement now will give your money lots of time to grow. Next, save at least $1,000 in an emergency fund. After that, attack those student loans full force.
- Be strategic about interest. when it comes to interest, you want to try to accrue as little of it as possible. Therefore, if you have any extra money to throw at a loan after making all minimum payments, you’ll want to chip away at the debt with the highest interest payment first.
- Start paying as soon as possible. After graduation, you’ll likely have a grace period before you have to start repaying your loan. However, interest may begin to accrue immediately, so if you have the means to start repaying, do so. The more you pay, the less interest you’ll be charged which can really help you in the long run.
Student loans can feel like they will drag you down, but you can make smart moves to tackle them faster. And the sooner their gone, the sooner you free yourself!
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