Five key steps to paying off student debt

Five key steps to paying off student debt

Student loans can be scary and frustrating. But you can pay off your school debt. The time to start is today. Your future self will thank you!

How many times have you been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

When I was younger, I just wanted to ride my bike and play tag with my friends. I didn’t want to think that far ahead when I was blowing out nine candles on my birthday cake.

Somewhere in the middle of raising my four children, I realized I could finally answer the big question.

I knew what I wanted to be a teacher! Of course, I couldn’t just go get a job as a teacher. First, I needed to get a college degree.

That’s when I realized what so many of you have also realized: Wow! college costs a lot!

The impact of student debt is real. And it’s not fun.

Are you like the 44.2 million Americans who paid for college by taking out student loans? It probably feels like most of your income goes to endlessly paying them off.

It’s almost like you’re paying for your college degree twice. And you are, thanks to interest. (Sorry, but it’s true!)

However, the worst part about having student loan debt is that you can’t truly enjoy the career that you worked so hard to get!

The truth is that having student loan debt has long-term negative consequence on your financial future. 

But it doesn’t have to. You figured out what you wanted to be when you grew up and you went for it and now you have a college degree! You are amazing! 

And now you deserve to balance your level of education with your personal finances.

Follow these five key steps and your student loans will be paid quicker.

There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to paying off debt, so do what’s best for you.

Step 1. Decide what your goal is and then formulate a ‘big picture’ plan.

What are you missing out on because you have to pay off debt instead of living your life?

How are you supposed to enjoy all your accomplishments when you’re chained to the stress of paying off debt?

The first step is making a goal — thinking about what you want after you pay off your debt, as well as what amount you’re going to pay off in what time period.

For example:

Goal: I will pay off all of my $19,000 in student loans in 3 year.


  • Year 1: Pay off $7,000 by December 31st.
  • Year 2: Pay off $6,000 by December 31st.
  • Year 3: Pay off $6,000 by December 31st.

Write it down! Writing down goals helps you stay on track during the time you need to complete your goals.  

Goals take time.

Step 2. Create and maintain a personal financial budget.

Your budget is the absolute best way for you to be in control of your money.

A budget puts you in charge of what happens to all of your money, including the money you spend and the money you save.

Paying your student loans bill every month is money you are spending, not saving for your future. 

Step 3. Look closely at your budget and discover areas where you could cut back on spending.

This is how you “find” money to pay off your student loans.

It’s easier to cut back on something when you know it’s not forever – it’s just until your student loans are paid off.

Step 4. Stick to your plan and stay motivated.

Paying off student loans takes time and keeping track every month will help you see the progress you’ve made.

Seeing your progress in a chart or xcel will help your stay motivated. 

Spending less is one way to ‘find’ money, but don’t forget about the many opportunities for you to make some extra money.

What can you do for a couple hours every week to earn money to pay off your student loans?

Step 5. Celebrate!

Take time to celebrate your milestones.  Woo hoo! You don’t have to wait until it’s all paid off to celebrate.

Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t let student loan debt weigh you down. You are so much more than the money you owe.

Because you are amazing!

T&H Financial Coaching guides individuals and couples  on how to organize their finances, strengthen their relationships and build wealth. We love seeing our clients reach their goals!