How to Manage Financial Debt After Graduation

RelayRides blogger Eric Rosenberg paid off his entire private university MBA student debt two years after graduation—here’s how.

This time of year is great for many reasons. The weather is getting warmer. Days are getting longer. And students around the school are starting their summer vacations. As new graduates celebrate beginning the next phase of their life, they have a new responsibility coming into focus. Student loan payments are due.

Create a Budget

Most college students don’t worry much about personal finances and budgets. With low incomes and a focus on education, most students don’t find budgeting a worthwhile use of their time, if they think of it at all.

Here’s a news flash to students: You have graduated, you are an adult, you are responsible for your own finances now.

It is time to stop relying on Mom and Dad, or loans, to pay for your life. It is time to take charge and create a budget. You can use free websites like Mint to load in your accounts and transactions and automatically create and track a budget. It just takes a few minutes to get started and doesn’t cost you a cent.

Trim Recurring Expenses

Some budgeting experts say that the best way to save money is to trim visits to Starbucks and restaurants. Those are both great, particularly if you have a problem spending way too much on discretionary costs like these, but I’m a big fan of focusing on the big wins.

I cut my cable TV and saved about $70 per month on something that I didn’t use that often. I found that when I cancelled, I started going to be with real live people after work instead of zoning out in front of the TV and my side income started to pick up. It was a big win.

A friend of mine was paying a relatively high monthly payment for his auto insurance, but he didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new company. When he got a letter in the mail that his rate was going up, he checked two websites for alternate quotes and found he could save 50% while keeping the same coverage. He saved nearly a thousand dollars a year by filling out a website form!

Another friend enjoyed living in his one bedroom downtown apartment. However, that apartment cost about $1,500 per month. After looking at his budget, he moved into a neighborhood just outside of downtown and found a roommate. The new rent was only $600 per month. That is a massive savings!

Whether you can save $20 per month or $900, that savings makes a big difference in your ability to free up funds to pay down your student loans.

Earn More

Whether you have your dream job or are working part-time in retail, there are always opportunities to earn more on the side. Whether you are good at writing, building websites, or mowing lawns and shoveling driveways, there are always opportunities to earn more on the side.

If you own a home or have a spare room in your rental, you can rent out the extra space with sites like AirBnB or competitors like Roomorama, 9Flats, and Wimdu.

If you don’t need your car to get to work, or you rarely use it on the weekend, you can rent it out and earn enough to cover your cost of ownership. RelayRides makes it easy to list your car for rental, and your car is always fully insured when a renter is using it. Members make, on average, $250 per month from renting out their cars.