If your student loan is affecting your relationship as a couple, check these nine ways to reduce financial debt out! My husband and I both paid our student loans off within four years of graduation…and I know you can, too.
These money tips are from Freedom Debt Relief — and two of their tips were so good, I almost fell off my chair.
Before the tips, a quip:
“A woman’s mink coat represents the sacrifice of a lot of little animals, including her husband.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin.
If you’re walking around in a mink coat, can you hawk it to pay off some of your student loan? You won’t regret it! If you’re struggling to pay off student loan debt, read How to Wipe Out Your Student Loans and Be Debt Free Fast: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply.
And, here are some good tips for paying off college loans as a couple…even if you owe $150,000….
9 Student Loan Tips for Couples
1. Pay your credit card debt first. One of the best ways to pay student loan debt is to put away your cards. Stop racking up more debt! (this might ease financial stress in your relationship, too.) Use cash or a debit card and stick to your household budget. If you or your partner is a college graduate with credit card debt, your smartest financial move is to pay off your credit cards first (because credit cards carry extremely high interest rates — typically 15 percent to 30 percent).
2. Look into income-based loan repayment options. This is a great money tip for couples: college students who struggle with student loan debt have some options for relief. For instance, if their loans were issued by the federal government program, there is an income-based repayment plan that caps the amount graduates must pay on student loans at 15 percent of discretionary income. After 25 years, any remaining balance is forgiven.
3. Get a public service job? I have degrees in Psychology and Education – neither of which lead to jobs that pay big salaries! But, if I still had student loan debt, I might get a financial break. Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Debt Relief, says if you work in public service, your student loan balance can be forgiven after 10 years. New laws make the program even more generous in the future: for loans issued after 2014, the repayment cap will be 10 percent of discretionary income and the loan program will forgive outstanding balances after 20 years. To benefit from this loan program, you must provide paperwork that prove you’ve worked in public service for 10 years (sometimes you have to stay organized to reduce financial debt!).
4. Pay your household and credit card bills on time. Paying your bills on time is the best way to build a strong credit rating (which you need to get a mortgage or other loan). “The track record college graduates establish in the first years of working and paying bills will help build a stronger financial future,” says Gallegos. “Setting up a system to support good record-keeping and paying bills on time is extremely important.” Again, paying bills and debts on time will reduce financial stress as a couple and strengthen your love relationship.
5. Pay other loan obligations next (before your student loan debt). After your credit card debt, pay your other debts (such as personal loans, car payments, etc) as quickly as possible. “If you must pay interest, you are better off paying it on student loans, where you can receive a tax deduction, rather than on consumer loans, which offer no tax benefit,” says Gallegos. If you have trouble saving money, learn how to make good financial habits stick.
6. Take advantage of the tax benefits. Most new graduates can deduct up to $2,500 per year in student loan interest payments. New college graduates might also qualify for additional education credits based on the amounts paid for education during this tax year. A tax advisor can help you and your partner get all the education-related deductions and credits for which you qualify – and so can a skookum tax program like QuickBooks. To reduce financial debt, you may have to go the extra mile.
Should you get a financial loan from your mom and dad? Read Getting Money From Your Rich Parents – When to Say No.
7. Save money for a rainy day (your emergency fund!). Unexpected expenses always come up, and you need to be prepared financially. “Everyone needs an emergency fund of at least $500 to start with, building to enough to cover basic living expenses for at least six months,” says Gallegos. Did you get a cash gift because you recently graduated? Don’t spend it on cool techo gadgets! Instead, put it towards paying off your student loans. You can buy all the cool stuff you want later, when you’re flush as a couple..
8. Learn the options that exist for college students who can’t pay their loans. Contact your lender immediately if you can’t pay your loan. Many student loans can be deferred for a time, although interest will continue to accrue. Don’t stop paying your loan; this is called “default,” and damage from defaulting can prevent borrowers from buying a home or car or getting a job, apartment or insurance for years to come.
9. Begin saving for retirement. I know this sounds nuts, to start saving for retirement when you’re barely out of college! But, your early working years are the prime time to start thinking about not just reducing your student loan debt, but also achieving financial goals as a couple. Investments made early have many years to grow – like compound interest. If you can contribute to a 401K or RRSP plan, do it!
Is your student loan affecting your marriage? Read 5 Ways to Stop Debt From Ruining Your Marriage.
If you have any thoughts on these student loan tips for couples, please comment below…
If you know in your heart it's time to move on, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
Freedom Debt Relief provides consumer debt settlement services, and works for consumers to negotiate with creditors.