“Thank you, OSAP, for my education. I don’t think I could ever pay you back.” – Broke, unemployed 22-year old me, fresh out of university.
Here is the magic formula:
1. Switch to a low to no interest loan
You will never pay your principle amount if you keep accumulating interest and you would end up paying even more than your initial loan amount. This is where compound interest DOES NOT work in your favour. I was fortunate enough to have family help me pay off OSAP first, and then I would pay the full amount back to them. Effectively, having a zero interest loan. Thanks fam.
2. Budget, budget, budget
“Never go to war without a plan.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Joking. I don’t even know if the book said that. However, that does not change the point.
You are in this for the long run. Paying off your student debt is like a marathon where it requires patience, pacing, and a lot of stamina. It’ll be all motivating at the start like the first 2KM – 5KM, but afterwards, it is so easy to slip and fall to old habits, spending away what could be going towards your loan. Plan exactly where each dollar should go before every month, which leads me to my next point of execution…
3. Set an aggressive monthly minimum amount
My minimum amount was determined by calculating how long I want to realistically take to pay off this loan. (I.E Loan amount ÷ # of years ÷ 12 months) I averaged about $1,600 – $1,800 a month, depending on the month’s financial situation.
4. Decrease expenses
There are two parts to this: A) Reoccuring expenses and B) Other expenses.
A) These would be expenses that would repeat month over month. Living at home and commuting via public transit meant that I could save some money by paying a lower rent and transit rate. Then, I put the difference towards my loan.
B) Other expenses would consist of going out to eat, shopping for clothes, etc. I am guilty in this area where spent a bit more than I should. Going out with friends and clothes were weaknesses of mine. Looking back, there were many occasions that I said ‘yes’ to, but there were many more instances when I had to say ‘no’.
5. Little to no savings
Honestly, this is one of the dumber things that I did in order to dump more money into my loan. I only did this, because my landlords were my parents.
6. No vacations
Plain and simple. I have not traveled for leisure or gone on a vacation since graduating and started working at my first full-time job.
Stay-cations ALL THE WAY.
7. Delay major purchases
My 6 year-old Sony Vaio and 7 year-old Samsung Galaxy SIII.
I staved off major purchases till I neared the end of my loan. Here, you see my 6-year old Sony VAIO laptop that kept blue screening and slow AF Galaxy SIII that constantly crashed, dropped calls and no longer connect to wifi, among a plethora of other issues. Despite these issues, I kept holding onto them, because my budget could not take the massive hit of new purchases.
And that’s it! The truth of the matter is, there is no magic solution to student debt.
Decrease spending, increase loan payment.
I admit that I could not have done it all on my own. I had help in terms of family giving me a lower rent rate, and giving me an interest free loan. This helped significantly. The rest was on my own when it came to planning and putting money aside to ensure that I was on track to pay everything off as quickly as I can.
Best of luck and I’ll see you on the other side!