Most of us grew up believing that the path to a high paying career started with earning a college degree. But for many, earning a college degree comes at a stiff price. Instead of leading to a high paying career, the price of a college education has left many graduates with staggering amounts of debt.
Today, more than 40 million Americans have student loan debt and 70% of those earning a bachelor’s degree incur an average of $28,400 in student loan debt according to a recent CNN article.
But unlike other debt, student loan debt is a different sort of ball and chain. It stays with you and can’t be discharged in bankruptcy like other types of debts. Student loan debt can even follow you into retirement and be garnished from your social security benefits. Being in any kind of debt can be stressful but being in student loan debt, that can seemingly last for years and years, can leave you feeling hopeless and depressed.
A recent study done by the University of South Carolina and the University of California Los Angeles illustrates the link between being in student loan debt and depression, stating that student loan debt is a major stressor in graduates’ lives.
I know that I have personally felt the stress and sadness of student loan debt. It can feel crippling and burdensome, with little hope in sight. But unfortunately depression can leave you feeling stuck and leave you feeling complacent.
So, what are you to do when your student loans are leaving you depressed? Here are some tips to help you get through.
Accept Your Debt
One of the first things you need to do is to accept your debt. I know that I was in denial for so long and didn’t want to know my total amount of debt. Facing my total student loan debt numbers was such a tough thing to do. But it helped me realize exactly where I’m at, and once I got over it, helped fuel my passion for becoming debt free.
You have to first accept your debt and everything that comes along with it. Get mad and then get inspired. But don’t live in denial that you are in debt. Empower yourself with information and create a plan of action. Will you use the snowball or avalanche method? Are you eligible for any special repayment plans? Accepting your student loan debt is the first step in creating a plan of attack, so that you can abolish your student loans.
I know that many people focus on cutting back when talking about how to pay off student loans. I totally think you should do that, too. But I’m also all too familiar with the fact that sometimes there really is no more to cut back, unless you go live in your car, or move back in with your parents. I find the other side of the coin to be much more motivating: earning more. Yes, earning more requires more work, but I find it to be so rewarding. You can increase your income to accelerate your debt payoff. How do you get started?
- Work overtime
- Negotiate a raise
- Get a part-time job to supplement your full-time job
- Start a side hustle
- Sell your old items
- Sell things you create
Earning more can give you the confidence that you too can earn more money. Not only that, but you can cut your student loan repayment time, so you can funnel your money elsewhere.
Find a Like-Minded Community
I have been pretty honest about why I started my blog. I was depressed and felt so alone. After just a few months of writing about my student loan debt, I found a community of other people who also were dealing with the perils of student loan debt. It was so motivating to know that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t the only one struggling.
Today, more than ever, you can find a like-minded community of people to help support your debt payoff journey. You can follow personal finance blogs, or even start one! Join Facebook groups (we have a private Personal Profitability group for email subscribers), talk to your friends and family — in short, find your people that can help propel you further towards success.
Paying off debt is a journey. There will be ups and downs. Even as committed as you are, there will be things that throw you off kilter and set you back. It can feel frustrating, but it’s part of the process. It’s key to practice self-care when paying off debt. Don’t beat yourself up or don’t feel like a failure if you don’t meet your goals. Let it inspire you to continue to do better. Progress is better than perfection any day.
To avoid debt fatigue, budget a small amount of money to spend on just yourself, guilt-free. This will help you keep your sanity and have some fun, while putting the majority of your money to debt.
So, while student loans are depressing and may be killing your spirit, you can work harder now to get rid of them quickly. It’s not the fun or the easy option, but now that there is research showing how much stress and emotional distress student loans cause, do you really want them sticking around?
I didn’t think so.