The best way to tackle debt is to start when you’re young. A lot of debt starts in college. Before you start your first day of classes consider how long you want to pay off those student loans. If you have a say in the matter choose a state school. Your loans will pale in comparison to those who attended prestigious private colleges.
While in college intern, intern, intern! Instead of taking on a low paying job serving up coffee or waiting tables look for internships that will provide both college credit and money. Not only will you receive real world experience, but you’ll also avoid sitting through another boring lecture that has little to do with life outside of the classroom. You’ll have a ton of experience to add to your resume and you can save the money you earn to help pay off your loans.
When you’re young you won’t mind living with roommates or housemates as much as you will when you’re older. Find a big group house and offer to take the smallest room. Most houses charge more for larger rooms than smaller ones. I once lived in a 9×9 room in the District for only $300. A studio apartment would’ve cost me $1200. The more you save on rent the quicker you can pay down your loans. Your conditions won’t be ideal and you’ll certainly feel cramped, but remember you don’t have to live there forever. If it helps tack a picture of your debt on the wall as a reminder of why you are living there. As the number shrinks cross off the previous amount owed and write in the new number. Every penny saved on rent can be applied to your debt. If you can live with family members for free that’s even better.
If your parents gave you an old rusted out car continue to drive it for as long as possible. You don’t want a new car payment when you have debt to pay. If you do need to buy a new ride ask your friends and neighbors if they no anyone selling. We’ve purchased most of our used cars from friends and family. They’ll usually charge a fair asking price for the vehicle.
When you first graduate work as hard as you can without getting burned out. You won’t feel guilty about working, since you don’t have kids or a husband and you can learn a lot of new skills in a relatively short amount of time. Hopefully those hours will pay off with big raises and bonuses. Odds are that your starting salary will be low so putting in extra time now will really boost your overall pay. Apply any bonuses or raises to paying down your debts.
Even if you really love your job I suggest interviewing elsewhere. Sometimes you’ll find the perfect opportunity with better pay elsewhere. The more you make the quicker you can get out of debt. Make sure you don’t get complacent while you’re young. Your earning potential can rise rather quickly and some employers will pay you much more than others.
Lastly write down the amount of money you owe on a piece of paper and tape it to the inside of your wallet. Every time you get the urge to pull our your credit card you’ll see that number and hopefully think twice about spending.