NORFOLK, Virginia (August 18, 2014) – Graduating from college with a hefty load of debt can be discouraging for many, especially with the economy at a standstill. For many college grads, buying a house remains just a dream. The experts at Homes.com® and ForRentUniversity.com™, leading online real estate destination sites, have compiled a list of the top 10 tips and trends for paying off college debt while saving for a house. Knowing how the numbers work with debt payments and learning innovative tricks to save money can be a tremendous step in the right direction toward purchasing that first home. Seven in ten college graduates are reported to have college debt, according to the Project on Student Debt. These tips will give graduates advice for paying off loans and help jumpstart savings for a future home.
Top 10 Tips to Pay off College Debt and Still Save for a House
1. Research different options
There are ways to refinance your student loans. Look for opportunities to cut costs on payments -- research different banks and companies that can provide assistance. With research and planning, eliminating student loan debt can become a reality. To start, check out Social Finance, Inc., CU Student Loans, and CommonBond.
2. Be frugal
It’s important to come to terms with the fact that financial sacrifices have to be made in order to pay off student loans. While it may seem frustrating, it is the smartest path to take until debt is wiped out. Buy only necessary things and minimize luxury spending until debt eases. If living alone, consider moving in with roommates or back home with family to cut the costs of rent and utilities. If college years turned you into a coffee addict, rethink how much you are spending on it. A grande fresh brewed coffee at Starbucks is $1.95. If you’re ordering one three times a week, that’s over $300 per year! Cut back on your coffee or brew at home to save money.
3. Write out your budget
Mapping out a monthly budget can be incredibly helpful in understanding which payments must be made each month in addition to the necessary expenses like rent, utilities, groceries and gas. Adding these figures up provides a clear cut view of expendable income, and allows for identification of additional funds to put towards payments.
4. Pick up a side job or extra hours at work
There have been many cases where people are in need of additional income – and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with picking up another job for a supplemental source of money to help pay off bills. Look into bartending, waiting tables, dog walking, babysitting, etc. Working more hours may seem like a lot to handle, but it will pay off (literally!) in the end. With time and effort, it is possible to increase your yearly salary and make a serious dent in debt.
5. Know your credit score – and start to build it
Paying back student loans each month on time can actually be a huge help for increasing a credit score. Set up a reminder each month to ensure payments are made on time. Many mortgage investors consider student loan debt to be “good debt,” meaning that they notice the investment towards a higher education, usually setting graduates up for successful futures.
6. Stop interest rates in their tracks – pay more when the opportunity is there
Without eliminating a savings account, use extra cash to add money to each payment. Depending on which type of loan you have, over its life, an additional amount paid (even if it’s just $5) can save hundreds. Take the opportunity to apply extra money to debts while it is available. Every little bit helps, and adds up quickly.
7. Start a savings account
With the extra money found after paying all bills as mentioned above, it’s wise to put a small portion of that into a high-yield savings account. This way, money works for you and is readily available during times of emergency – reducing the need for credit cards, which add to debt. This can also be a great opportunity to begin a small savings fund for when the time comes to make a down payment towards good debt – a mortgage!
8. Think about enrolling in auto-debit
Depending on your student loan servicer, there are options to have payments automatically taken out of your bank account each month. This can take away the worry of potentially missing a deadline, and also encourages limited spending to ensure there’s enough money in a checking account each month. Many times, services will give you a discount just for signing up!
9. Be weary of your grace period
You may be required to start paying off student debts sooner after graduation than you think. Make sure you are aware of your grace period, the period of time you are allowed to wait until you must make your first payment. It's six months for federal Stafford loans, but nine months for federal Perkins loans. Need help remembering to make your payments? Stay in touch with your lender and create reminders on your calendar.
10. Don’t stress yourself out
Let’s face it – student loans can be ridiculously intimidating and sometimes scary, but keep in mind that this is not a permanent situation. Paying off loans in a timely fashion will eliminate debt and give you the chance to find a home, travel, and start the foundation for a wonderful life. Believe it or not, you can pay off your loans within five years or less with hard work.
As one of the nation’s top online real estate destinations, Homes.com inspires consumers to dream big. From affordable houses to luxurious estates, condos, apartment rentals and more, Homes.com features more than 3 million property listings and exclusive distribution of over 20,000 apartment listings from ForRent.com in a user-friendly format, making finding your next home easy. Visitors to the Homes.com blog will find a collection of rich information and posts on DIY projects, painting, organization tips and more, providing the ultimate resource for everything home related. From finding your first apartment to buying your first home, upgrading, downsizing and everything in between, Homes.com is an inspiring and engaging partner in every phase of the home buying or renting process.
ForRentUniversity.com™ is an all-inclusive apartment finder specifically designed for students and parents looking for off-campus housing. ForRentUniversity.com guides both students and parents through the search steps of finding the ideal off-campus apartment by offering a variety of search options based on specific wants or needs. Both groups can search off-campus housing with ForRentUniversity.com, the mobile site or video using filters such as location, budget, leases, amenities and more. ForRentUniversity.com also provides an interactive social community for students and parents, so that they can gain insight while searching as well as share their own experiences.