What’s the actual plan? Strategies, tools, and motivation to pay down your debt.

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Disclaimer : This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small compensation if you buy a product or sign up for a service through that link, and there would be no additional cost to you. Each link will be clearly marked if they’re affiliate links.

At the time of this post I owe: $25,104.48.

I’ve had these loans for 10 years already. I can’t be surprised that I’m not making much progress when I never really addressed them. I just kept making the minimum payments and thought that was enough. I really need a game plan if I’m going to take this seriously. My strategy here isn’t necessarily to reduce my normal monthly expenditures and put those savings towards my loans. Let’s be honest. I live in SoCal, I love to go out and eat and drink, I thoroughly enjoy going to baseball games and concerts, and I have a handful of trips planned this year, so my spending isn’t necessarily changing too much. I definitely save money by meal prepping all of my lunches, I shop around for the best price on products before I buy them, and I do have ways to save money on my daily expenditures. My main goal here is to make money in addition to my current full-time job and apply that to my loans each month. At the end of each month, I’ll share how much money I’ve applied towards my balance.

This will consist of my standard payment of $448/month + any additional side hustle income.

My current sources of side hustle income include:

  • Swigcasso – Follow me on Instagram and check out my Etsy Shop!
  • Field Agent App (affiliate link) This one is newer for me. You get “secret shopper” gigs and you can cash out your earnings into your PayPal account. Each job is roughly $3-13/each. So far I’m really enjoying this app.
  • Ibotta (affiliate link) If you’re already buying groceries or doing any online shopping, get some money back in your pocket! I’ve earned $63 over time with this app. You can still stack this with coupon codes, and earn your credit card airline miles/cash back. I love it.
  • Affiliate Marketing – I’m still learning a lot on this daily and just getting my feet wet. I’ll also never market a product or service I don’t actually use myself. These are things I truly do use and can offer honest feedback on.
  • Other/Miscellaneous – for example I recently found a check I forgot to cash at Christmas in the bottom of a drawer. This would include one-time additions of cash that I couldn’t plan on month over month.

I make sure to take all my monthly earnings in cash, then I add the cash to a jar. At the end of every month I count my money in the jar, deposit it into my checking account, and pay that amount to my student loans. I like keeping each month in a jar because it is a visual reminder of how much I have and how much I have to go. I’m also very good about not spending cash, because I’d much rather earn the airline miles on my credit cards. But if having cash around make you want to spend it, then by all means, keep your savings in your checking or savings account and apply the extra loan payment at the end of each month. Just make sure to keep track of your monthly money earned so you know exactly how much that extra payment should be.

This really is my money jar. And my $65 in it.

So what’s the goal? $100/month? $200? $300? How impactful can $100/month really be?

One of my favorite tools out there is the Dave Ramsey mortgage calculator. Nerd alert, am I right? Hear me out, it’s pretty cool. It isn’t just for mortgages. It can be useful for any loan, and especially student loan payments. You enter your starting loan amount, interest, and length in years. Then you can play around with how paying an additional $100, $200, and $300 every month will change your payoff date. And you’ll see how much interest you’ll save. You can also see how single lump sum payments can help as well. The graphic below shows my loans with only standard payments (top graphic), then $100 extra, then $200 extra, then $300 extra (bottom graphic).

See what happens to my payoff date and how much interest I save by applying an additional $100, $200 and $300 to my payments each month?

My goal is starting at $100 a month (in addition to my $448 I’m already paying). Then I’ll bump it up to $200 then $300. So far this month I have $65 in that jar (It has been a slow start, but I’m ramping up). It has really only consisted of a wine glass I painted and that Christmas check I forgot to cash that I found in a drawer.

I’ll continue to add new and different side hustles, and begin to hone in on what works and what doesn’t. I’ll see what has the greatest return on investment for my time spent, but I also want to focus on what makes me happy and what I enjoy spending my time on. Want a little inspiration to make that extra cash? I’ve got you covered.

You ready to get started? Me too.

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