When you are looking at the terms of a loan, it can feel like a breeze. You'll have 10 years, or 15, or maybe 30, and you will pay your loan off slowly but surely. The only problem with this is that you end up with huge amounts of money lost to interest. You may also have a harder time getting new loans if you have existent loans already in the system. If you want to pay off your loan early, prepare to work hard.
Getting rid of a loan early means dedicating yourself to that process. You will need to find a way to channel your income toward your goal. Becoming dedicated to reducing your debt and paying off a loan early can help you save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan, and can allow you the freedom in a few years to enjoy a debt-free life.
Budget and stick to it
A budget is a very important part of learning to pay off your loans early. To form your budget, spend at least a month figuring out where your money goes. Document and sort every trip to the grocery store, every dollar spent on games or entertainment, and every single penny that goes into your gas tank. Once you have figured out about what you spend and where you spend it, figure out where you can squeeze your spending. Can you drive less? Eat cheaper (or just cook more rather than going out)? Can you go to just one less movie a month (or a week?) Cut every corner you can, write it, print it, and save it. This is your budget, and you will stick to it. All the extra money you are saving-all of it-goes to your debt.
Reconsider your budget
After a couple of months, think about your budget and how it has been working for you. Has it been easy? If it has, then there is probably a bit more squeezing you can do. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, imagine how good life is going to be when you don't have to spend money on your debt anymore, and start slashing. Entertainment is the easiest place to cut. Food is also easy; consider how much money you could save by packing your lunch every day. Every new penny you slash goes to your debt.
Stick to it with cash
Credit cards are very tempting, but they are essentially new forms of debt just waiting to be used. Instead of tempting yourself by using your credit card when you check out (and having thoughts like "I'm just a few dollars over my limit"), bring cash. When cash is out, it is out. If you get to the line in the grocery store with a few too many items, you may have to ask the cashier to put them back, and if you cannot afford that movie, you will know that you can't just charge it. For many people, paying with cash is much easier to track than adding receipts with credit cards.
Save your change
If you start using cash or if you get change anyplace for any reason, drop it in a jar and have a monthly rolling day. You can earn money quickly by saving up your change and applying it to your debt. Try it! You get bonus points if you go the extra mile and not spend any of your change, either. When every purchase is essentially rounded up to the next dollar, those cents add up quickly.
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