Outsmart Your Student Loans: How to Repay Them Faster and Cheaper

Personal Finance

If you're feeling overwhelmed by your student loans, you're not alone. With the average student loan debt reaching new heights, it's essential to have a plan in place to tackle and outsmart your loans. In this article, we will explore practical strategies to help you repay your student loans faster and cheaper.

It's important to remember that managing your student loans is a marathon, not a sprint. You may not see immediate results, but with patience and perseverance, you can make significant progress towards financial freedom. As financial expert Dave Ramsey once said, "You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you."1

By following the tips in this article, you can take control of your student loan repayment journey and pave the way for a brighter financial future.

Understand Your Student Loans

Before you can start strategizing how to repay your student loans faster and cheaper, you need to have a clear understanding of what you owe.

First, gather all the necessary information about your loans. Get to know the specifics about each loan, including the interest rates, payment due dates, and the total amount owed. As certified financial planner Eric Roberge says, "The only way to build a plan to repay your loans is to understand them fully."

Next, determine the type of loans you have. Are they federal or private? This is important because each type comes with different repayment options and benefits. As financial expert Suze Orman advises, "Understanding your loans will help you make well-informed decisions about how to tackle them."

Finally, make sure you are aware of any grace periods or deferment options your loans might have. These can be valuable tools in managing your repayments.

In short, taking the time to understand the specifics of your student loans will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your repayment strategy.

Create a Budget and Set Goals

One of the first steps you should take to outsmart your student loans is to create a budget and set clear repayment goals. By doing so, you can gain control over your finances and track your progress toward becoming debt-free.

Budgeting Basics

Start by listing all your sources of income and your monthly expenses. This will help you understand exactly how much money you have available to put towards your student loan payments each month. As financial expert Dave Ramsey advises, "A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.".

Setting Repayment Goals

Next, set ambitious yet achievable goals for repaying your student loans. Consider breaking down your total loan amount into smaller, more manageable targets. For example, you could aim to pay off a specific percentage of your loans each year. This approach can make the task seem less overwhelming and more attainable.

Remember, as Tony Robbins, a best-selling author and entrepreneur, emphasizes, "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.". By having a clear plan in place, you can stay motivated and focused on your journey to financial freedom.

By establishing a budget and setting repayment goals, you can take a proactive approach to managing your student loans. This will not only help you to stay on top of your payments, but also empower you to make informed financial decisions and achieve your long-term objectives.

white Casio calculator
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Pay More Than the Minimum

When it comes to repaying your student loans, paying more than the minimum can make a significant difference in the long run. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of interest you'll pay over the life of the loan and get out of debt faster.

If you find yourself with a little extra money, whether it's from a tax refund, a bonus at work, or a birthday gift, consider putting it towards your student loans. According to financial expert Suze Orman, "Every dollar you add to your monthly payment puts you that much closer to being debt-free."

By paying more than the minimum, you not only reduce the principal balance of your loan but also decrease the amount of interest that accrues. This can ultimately save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

If you have multiple student loans, consider focusing on paying extra towards the loan with the highest interest rate first. This will help you save more money in the long term.

In the words of financial coach Dave Ramsey, "Attack your debt with a vengeance. Be gazelle intense about getting out of debt!" By paying more than the minimum, you can accelerate your journey to financial freedom and get rid of those student loans sooner than you think.

Remember, every extra dollar you pay now is a step closer to being debt-free and achieving your financial goals.

Consider Refinancing Options

Refinancing your student loans is worth considering if you want to save money on interest and pay off your debt faster. When you refinance, you replace your current loan with a new one that has better terms, often with a lower interest rate.

By refinancing, you could potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. This can help you to pay off your loans more quickly and cheaply.

When you refinance your student loans, you are essentially taking out a new loan to pay off your existing loans. This new loan will ideally have better terms, such as a lower interest rate, longer repayment term, or smaller monthly payments.

Before you decide to refinance, it's important to carefully consider your options and do thorough research. Refinancing may not be the best option for everyone, especially if you have federal loans and may lose out on benefits like income-driven repayment plans or loan forgiveness programs.

As financial expert Mark Kantrowitz advises, "Before you refinance, you should consider whether you will need any of the federal loan benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans, economic hardship deferments, or loan forgiveness programs. If you will need any of these benefits, you should not refinance federal loans with a private lender."

It's essential to weigh the pros and cons, and ensure that refinancing aligns with your financial goals and needs.

Take the time to compare offers from different lenders and carefully assess the potential savings and benefits. With some research and due diligence, refinancing could be a strategic move to help you better manage and repay your student loans more efficiently.

Utilize Government Repayment Plans

When it comes to repaying your student loans, the government offers several repayment plans that can help make your monthly payments more manageable. One option is an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan, which sets your monthly payments at a percentage of your discretionary income. This could be a great option if you're struggling to make your current payments.

Another option is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program offers loan forgiveness for borrowers who work in qualifying public service jobs while making 120 qualifying monthly payments. Jessica B., a participant in the PSLF program, shared her experience, stating, "The PSLF program has been a game-changer for me. It's allowed me to pursue my passion for helping others without the burden of overwhelming student loan payments."

By taking advantage of these government repayment plans, you can potentially reduce your monthly payments and work towards loan forgiveness. When exploring your options, be sure to do your research and consider speaking with a financial advisor to determine which plan is best for you.

Earn Extra Money for Payments

When it comes to paying off your student loans faster, earning extra money on the side can make a significant difference. Whether it's picking up a part-time job, freelancing, or even selling items you no longer need, every extra dollar you earn can go towards paying down your loans more quickly.

One effective way to earn extra money is by leveraging your skills and talents. For example, if you're good at writing, graphic design, or coding, you can offer your services on freelance websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. Another option is to take on a part-time job in the evenings or on weekends. Remember, the goal is to increase your income specifically to put towards your student loans.

In the words of financial expert Ramit Sethi, "Don't let your 9-to-5 job limit your earning potential. There are countless opportunities to make extra money, especially with the advent of the gig economy."

Furthermore, consider selling items you no longer use. Whether it's clothing, electronics, or household items, there are various online platforms such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Poshmark where you can list your items for sale. The extra funds from these sales can be directly allocated towards your student loan payments.

By generating extra income, you can accelerate your loan repayment and save money on interest in the long run. It may require additional effort, but the payoff is certainly worth it.

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Monitor and Adjust Your Strategy

Once you've set your repayment plan in motion, it's crucial to regularly monitor and assess your progress. Make it a habit to check in on your budget, your loan balances, and your overall financial situation. This will help you identify any areas where adjustments might be necessary.

Regularly monitoring your progress can help you stay on track and make any necessary changes to your repayment strategy. As Brett Tushingham, a financial advisor, says, "You need to stay engaged with your student loan repayment plan. Don't just set it and forget it. Make it a priority to review and adjust your strategy as needed."

If you find that you're consistently falling short of your goals, it might be time to rethink your budget or find ways to increase your income. On the other hand, if you're consistently exceeding your expectations, you may want to consider directing more funds toward your student loans to speed up the repayment process.

Remember, your financial situation may change over time, so it's important to continually evaluate and adjust your strategy accordingly. As you do so, you'll gain a better understanding of what works best for you and be able to optimize your approach to repay your student loans faster and cheaper.


Congratulations on taking the initiative to outsmart your student loans! By understanding your loans, creating a budget, paying more than the minimum, considering refinancing options, utilizing government repayment plans, earning extra money, and monitoring and adjusting your strategy, you are well on your way to repaying your student loans faster and cheaper.

Remember, the key is to stay disciplined and committed to your goals. As financial expert Robert Kiyosaki once said, "It's not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it's what you whisper to yourself that has the most power." By continually motivating yourself and staying focused on your financial goals, you can successfully navigate the path to financial freedom.

Keep in mind that every small step you take today leads to a brighter financial future tomorrow. As you continue on this journey, don't hesitate to seek support and advice from others who have successfully navigated the challenge of repaying student loans. You are not alone, and there are many resources and strategies available to help you succeed.

By staying informed, proactive, and resourceful, you can take control of your student loans and pave the way for a future free from the burden of debt. Keep your eyes on the prize, and remember that every dollar you save and every bit of progress you make brings you closer to financial independence.

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Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

1Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace (1992)
2Suze Orman, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (2005)
3Eric Roberge, Financial Planning for Young Adults (2017)
4Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace (1992)
5Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within (1991)
6Suze Orman, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (2005)
7Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover (2003)
8Mark Kantrowitz, Investing in your future: Federal Student Loan Repayment Options (2009)
9Judith S. Lorber, Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics (2010)
10Ramit Sethi, "I Will Teach You to Be Rich" (2009)
11Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover (2013)
12Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997)