Avoiding the Post-Graduate Depression of Student Loans

I’m so excited to share today’s guest post! Dan and I met online through Rockstar Directory, and he has some great recommendations for making student loans a more positive experience. Enjoy!

By Dan from dinks.co; he’s a new blogger looking to make his mark on personal finance.

Earning a college degree is a perceived necessity in today’s economic environment. Individuals who invest in a college education are more likely to secure a higher paying job and have a career trajectory that provides for a financially stable life. However, the investment required for a college degree increases each year, incentivizing millions of students to take on student loan debt to fund their education.

Student loans currently account for more than $1.4 trillion owed, and recent graduates make up the majority of borrowers given the increased cost of attending college. While student loans are a means to an end, they can and often do create a sense of overwhelming dread for new graduates. It shouldn’t be surprising; it’s already no secret that money is stressful.

Many individuals take on tens of thousands to complete a degree program, but without the right level of know-how on repayment and money management, borrowers are prone to mismanage their student debt right out of the gate. Not understanding where student loan balances and minimum payment requirements can be found, misunderstanding income-driven repayment options, or failing to recognize the power of compounding interest among others all lead to stress that can be difficult to overcome.

To avoid these negative consequences, it is helpful to understand what can be done to manage loan balances and repayment after graduation effectively. In other words, it pays to know how to pay down your debt. It sounds like a simple solution, but there are a few ways to make it easier. Here are several strategies to ease the overwhelm associated with student loans after graduation.

Breaking up Payments

Some of the stress that comes with repaying student debt is the substantial amount due each month. For new graduates who are just starting their career, making a several hundred-dollar payment each month can be difficult to manage on an entry-level salary. One method to reduce the burden is to break payments up into more manageable pieces.

Some student loan borrowers opt for bi-weekly (or twice per month) payments which can be aligned with the borrower’s pay schedule. While an auto pay option might not be available, borrowers can easily allocate half of the payment manually through their student loan servicers. Taking this small step eases cash flow every two weeks. On top of this, keeping to a strict bi-weekly schedule actually adds an additional payment on the year compared to making two payments a month.

Private Student Loan Consolidation

Student loan borrowers often end up with multiple loans after graduation which can be a challenge to manage. Adding to the frustration and confusion is the fact that each loan may have a different interest rate than the next. Consolidating student loan debt through a private lender may be a solution for those who want a simplified loan and a potentially lower interest rate. There are a few caveats to this process, but there are also potentially rewarding benefits.

Private student loan lenders offer a range of options for borrowers who have a strong credit history, a stable employment record or job offer, or a co-signer with these attributes. They may be able to provide a lower cost via a fixed or variable interest rate, or more manageable repayment plans that extend out longer than the standard repayment plan for federal loans. This is a great way to save money on student debt, but it is characteristically hard to qualify for. Private lenders hold applicants to a strict underwriting standard, and new graduates with inexperience may have a hard time qualifying.

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Deferment

Borrowers who have federal student loan debt or certain private student loan lenders may have an option for deferring their minimum monthly payments for a period of time. Deferment simply allows a borrower to stop making payments for several months at a time without going into default. This can be a great help to someone who’s facing unexpected financial obligations.

However, a deferred federal or private student loan may still accrue interest. This means borrowers could end up owing more than they started with, making it necessary to consider the consequences before requesting a deferment in the first place. Aside from this, student loan deferment is still an option for anyone looking to get a sigh of relief during repayment.

Income-Driven Repayment Options

If the monthly payment on a federal student loan is too much to manage, then there are several options for income-driven payment plans that can help ease the burden. Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans limit a borrower’s monthly payment to a percentage of discretionary income, either 10 or 15%, making payments more manageable.

It is important to note that income-driven repayment plans may be eligible for future forgiveness after 20 or 25 years, but this creates a tax liability in the year the loan balance is wiped clean. Also, these repayment plan options still accrue interest, meaning borrowers could owe far more than they originally took out. However, it is equally important to note that the prospect of student loan forgiveness via IDR is dwindling under the current government administration; this forgiveness program may be cancelled officially soon. Despite this, IDR plans are still a viable way to reduce monthly payments into a more manageable obligation.

Conclusion

Exiting college into the real world is a challenging transition all on its own. When you throw in the beginning of student loan repayment, it gets all the more troublesome. While this can drag any recent graduate down, it’s important to understand that you have options to choose from. These options will help you navigate your student loan debt as well as come to terms with your monthly obligations. Handling student loan debt doesn’t have to be depressing, but it can certainly be a valuable learning experience.

My Word for 2018: Alignment

What Is Alignment?

Alignment comes from the idea that like attracts like: if you’re in a good state of mind/energy, more good things will come to you. If you’ve ever heard of the Law of Attraction, it’s the same idea. I’ve been learning about alignment this past year through The Lively Show, one of my favorite podcasts, and I’ve decided it’s time to put these ideas into practice for myself.

So, I’ve chosen “alignment” as my word to focus on in 2018. Focusing on attracting what I want doesn’t mean I’m just going to sit on my couch and expect things to come to me. But when I get into alignment before I take action, I can magnify the actions I do take. I can receive much greater results with much less effort.

When I’m in alignment, I feel happy, connected to those around me, and I want to get things done! When I sit down to work, I’m focused, my mind is clear, and I’m much more productive. For me, that looks like writing this post in a dedicated 30 minute block instead of 2 hours, broken up by checking Facebook! It makes even more of an impact when I’m working with clients. Coaching conversations just flow, instead of having to check myself to stay focused. My clients get MUCH better results from a coach who’s in alignment versus one who’s dealing with resistance, frustration, or just focused on something else.

Of course, I’m not going to be in alignment all the time, but I want to maximize these effects whenever I can.

How I Bring Alignment into My Life

I do four things every day to get into alignment. What lights you up is going to be different than what lights me up.

Meditate

I meditate for 10 minutes every morning. Sometimes I can clear my mind with no effort, sometimes I just accept that thoughts about wedding planning are going to pop up every 5 seconds. Either way, those 10 minutes make a huge difference in my day. I can tell a difference in my state of mind and my focus when I’ve meditated (and everyone around me can tell that I get stressed more easily when I haven’t!).

Walk

I walk outside, usually for around 30 minutes. Today, I walked on the treadmill because it was 22 degrees (and I live in Georgia!), and it’s not the same. It’s that combination of being in nature and moving my body that really charges me up.

Audiobooks

I love listening to self-development audiobooks and podcasts. Right now, I’m listening to You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. Some other favorites have been Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth and The Lively Show podcast mentioned earlier. I love reading fiction books, but these more uplifting audiobooks have been more effective for getting into alignment, especially when I listen while walking outside.

Journal

At minimum, I journal every night before I go to bed. I also like writing (stream of consciousness style) if I’m feeling resistance, at the start of a new year, or after a major life event. Writing helps me process my feelings and my day in general.

How can you get into alignment?

Take a minute and write down everything that comes to mind that lights you up. Over the next week, try different things on your list and notice how you feel after. What do you turn to make a bad day better? What can you do every day? I also have a list of things I love to do that I can do on special occasions, like walking on the beach.

I’d love to know what you do to get into alignment/get into your zone of genius/get into flow!

Lindsey

 

 

 

 

Did you know you can schedule your free discovery session with me straight from my website? Click here to set up some time with me!

Decision Fatigue

I’m so excited to share this Facebook live replay from last Thursday! I talked about decision fatigue, how it holds you back, and what you can do about it.

Watch the replay

What is Decision Fatigue?

It’s just what it sounds like- making little decisions all day every day that end up exhausting you. It’s one of the reasons you’re so exhausted at the end of the work day, or the reason you and your friends don’t want to be the one to pick the place for dinner.

How does it hold me back?

Wouldn’t you like to use that mental energy for something else? As a business owner, I know that I am beat at the end of a day where I’ve had to make so many decisions. At the end of the day, which is an important time for me because it’s my time with my fiancé, I’m exhausted. I don’t make choices that match up with my values or my goals for my health and relationships.

When you’re conscious about limiting the decisions you make, you have mental energy for the whole day. You can focus on what’s important, even if it’s at the very end of the day.

What you can do about it

Make the decision once. If you decide ahead of time that you’re going to workout every morning, you don’t have to go through the whole “should I or shouldn’t I” routine. Sure, there are other obstacles. But you’ve gotten rid of a huge roadblock by making the decision to go in advance.

Stop trying to be perfect. You’re adding a bunch of decisions to your to do list, and you’re not going to reach perfection anyway! When it’s good enough, stop.

Want to be there for the next Facebook live?

Follow me at Lindsey Warren Coaching to stay up to date!

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Celebrate Failure

So often, failure is something bad, or something to be afraid of. At the best, it’s something to put up with, to learn from when you can, or a temporary setback. Of course, it’s totally normal to be upset when you fail at something that’s important to you. And you might think it’s crazy to reframe failure in a positive way- but just give it a chance.

Reframing Failure

I saw a post on Facebook last week from my cousin who’s in med school. He wanted to know what people had failed at this week- so that they could celebrate the failures. He pointed out that when you’ve failed at something, it means you tried. And many times, you went out of your comfort zone or tried something new. When you look at it this way, failure really is something to celebrate!

celebrate failure because there are only opportunities

How Can You Celebrate Failure?

It starts with sharing, even if you’re ashamed or afraid to acknowledge that you failed. In the past week, I have failed at having a conversation with Jeff about our finances. I got really upset when I wanted to stay calm, and I was grumpy for the rest of the day because of it.

When you share your failures, think about how you benefitted from this failure. How did it bring you out of your comfort zone? What did you learn?

What have you failed at this week? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Feel Productive at the End of the Day

So many of my clients and friends say that their days feel rushed, and they feel like they never get anything done. I had one of those days yesterday: I had lots of errands to do, got distracted by some wedding research, and ended up feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything. Not a good feeling. But most days, I’m really dedicated to making the most of my day, no matter how busy I get, and feeling like I’ve accomplished something important.

Here’s what I do to feel productive every day.

Your “Must Do” List

Even on a day like yesterday, there are a couple of non-negotiable things I do every day. This doesn’t have to be a morning routine, despite the many books and Instagram challenges that say otherwise.

Here are the things I do every day:

  • Meditate
  • Move my body (usually a walk or yoga)
  • Have a 15 minute check in with Jeff
  • Read before I go to bed

I do not compromise on these. I also don’t do them when I first wake up, except for meditation. Moving my body is usually in the late morning/early afternoon, I check in with Jeff when he gets home from work, and I read before I fall asleep.

My “nice to haves” are reading Geneen Roth, eating at least one meal by myself, and getting alone time during the day. But I can go without these and still feel satisfied. If I miss moving my body or something else from my “must do” list, I feel drained and slightly resentful.

What’s on your must do list? What do you need to do every day so you don’t feel burned out?

Start with what’s important

Sometimes (ok, a LOT of times), you’re going to have a busy day, and you won’t get everything done. When you start with the most important thing you need to get done, you’re guaranteed to check that off! If you start with something that’s not really important, like email or organizing your desk, you may not get to that more important task.

If you’re doing the most important thing on your to do list every day, you’re going to feel productive at the end of every day! One mistake I made with my “errand day” yesterday was not following through with this. And not following through made so much of a difference in how productive I felt I was yesterday.

Get your workbook below to guide you through the process!

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