5 Tips to Pay Off Your Optometry Student Loans in 5 Years or Less
Optometry students sign up for school thinking that they will graduate with about $120,000-$150,000 in loans with the promise of making nice 6-figure incomes. That sounds like a sound financial decision. But between tuition increases each year and the cost of living, the average Optometry student debt for many ODs can be as high as $200,000+.
One of the worst feelings is tearing open your paycheck or seeing your direct deposit hit your bank account, only to remember that you need to use a huge chunk of that money to pay your student loan debt. With student loan debt, it might seem like this feeling could last forever — but it doesn’t have to. If you want your debt to go away faster, you’re going to have to upgrade your student loan repayment strategy.
Here are 5 tips to help you pay off your student loans in five years or less.
1. Visualize the future without student loans
close your eyes and imagine what your life would be like if that No. 1 most hated thing were no longer a problem because you don’t have student loans. How would your life change for the better? Would you be happier? What would you do without having to worry about student loans? Is this a life you want to have? With enough hard work, it can become reality. Now go get it!
2. Make more than the minimum payment
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your debt. Just take the payments you have and add extra money to the payment. You should already have payments set up, so anything extra goes straight toward your principal. One easy way to do this: Set up automatic payments with this extra amount added in. This takes any indecision out of the equation and makes it harder for you to change your mind, too.
Refinancing your loans is one of the best moves out there for paying off student loans faster. The goal of refinancing is to decrease interest rates, meaning more of your payments go toward paying down your student loans. When you refinance multiple student loans, you’ll get one consolidated loan with one monthly payment. Alternatively, you could refinance just one student loan for lower rates. You’ll likely only want to refinance loans where you can actually decrease your interest rate.
4. Trim your budget
If you want to find more money but can’t easily increase your income, decreasing your budget is an option. While it may sound extreme, some have trimmed their budget drastically. The key to success: You only have to do this in the short term. It’s not for the rest of your life, but rather a short period where you’re focused on paying off student loans faster. A few common strategies are:
- Cancel some of your subscriptions
- Don’t go out to restaurants for a period of time
- Give up alcohol for a while
- Reduce the number of trips to your favorite coffee shop
- If you spend $10/day at your favorite coffee shop, that can add up to a whopping $3640 per year. Imagine what that can do to your student loan balance.
The options here are really only limited to your creativity and motivation.
5. Apply your raises or any extra money
Hopefully, you work at a job where raises are part of the compensation. If you don’t, see our article about strategies to maximize your earnings. But what do you actually do when you get a raise? You could just get more stuff — a bigger TV, a better car, or more exotic vacations. But why not put a chunk of it toward student loan repayment? Just take one-half of your raise amount and put it straight toward student loan payments. This means either increasing your automatic monthly student loan payments or transferring the money to a savings account to make a lumpsum payment at the end of the year.
The good news is that when it comes to getting student loan debt under control, the ball is in your court. Even if you can’t pay off your student loans now, there are ways to alleviate your debt burden and live a better financial life. Numbers aside, paying off student loans can feel like a personal achievement for many people, and the quicker it’s over with, the better you will feel.