The road of paying back student loans can feel long, lonely, boring, and frustrating. This is especially the case if you have fairly large student loans and the monthly payments seem like they’re not helping you at all. It’s understandably difficult to keep momentum when you’re only chipping away at interest.
A silver lining of the student loan epidemic is that we’re not alone in this battle- so many others are facing these struggles. People are constantly looking for ways to stay motivated. Here are my 5 favorite, most effective ways to keep up motivation in my own journey of paying back student loans.
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
First off, set your goals so you know what you’re working toward. These steps will help you get to your goal, but first be clear about your goal(s). You can use this goal worksheet from Bone Fide Wealth for help!
1- Listen to personal finance podcasts or read personal finance books daily
Podcasts have seen a relatively recent boom and are alongside well established personal finance books. With the combination of the two, there’s no shortage of inspirational sources when working toward paying back student loans. The best part is both are easy to digest and actually fun!
- So Money with Farnoosh Torabi
This is my favorite podcast and I listen to it every day. Farnoosh is a great interviewer. Her guests always help me stay motivated; they’re not just finance experts but career and personal development inspirations, too. This is perfect for me because paying back student loans isn’t just about your finances, but also about your career and your own happiness! That’s why I love the variety of guests.
- HerMoney with Jean Chatzky
This money podcast is by women, for women. It’s always motivating to hear how successful women manage their money and stay ahead financially. The host knows her stuff. I love learning ways to build real wealth from her including owning retirement, paying back student loans and investing young.
- The Power of Bold with Adam Pascarella
This podcast is hosted by my wonderful boyfriend! He started it when he made the super bold move of quitting his corporate law job to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship. This podcast is his entrepreneurial journey, filled with tips on being bold and taking risks to live a richer life. He always inspires me.
- Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
Readers of this site know what a huge fan I am of Nicole Lapin. A lot of my reason for looking up to her so much is because of this book! She presents personal finance with the constant reminder of how it can empower you and fulfill all facets of your life. I love her techniques for paying back debt. This includes looking at your outstanding amount every day, automating your payments, and splurging when it’s strategic.
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
My favorite part of Ramit Sethi’s mentality of building wealth is the focus on earning more, not necessarily budgeting more. While Ramit encourages frugality, the emphasis is on making more money, which is unlimited. This helps so much with paying back student loans because it allows you to work a job you want, no matter what the salary is, because you can earn more money other ways.
- The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
In case I haven’t made clear, automation is my absolute favorite personal finance technique and mentality. It allows me to live and spend a much more relaxed way because I know my money is automatically saving, retiring, and most importantly, paying back student loans.
Listening or reading personal finance daily keeps your mentality strong and your momentum going. Even if the precise topic of chapters or episodes doesn’t apply to you, listening to smart money advice will make you care more about your own money- whatever situation you might be in.
I listen to So Money every single day. I even listen to the episodes that don’t apply to me such as those about retirement, saving for college, financing a car, etc. For a while, I thought they were irrelevant, but over time I found that they continued to motivate me even when they didn’t apply to me directly.
Fun fact, I recently co-hosted an episode of So Money! (a dream come true.) Listen here.
2- Watch your debt drop
When you’re paying back student loans, checking your bank account isn’t nearly as rewarding as you want to feel when you know you’re killing yourself to pay off debt.
I use Personal Capital to check my network nearly every day. It’s a free service that links your accounts, credit cards, and loans so you can see your net worth all at once. I love logging in each week and seeing my net worth rise slightly while I’m paying back student loans at an expedited pace. See how to track your net worth below:
See how to track your net worth below:
3- Know how your life will be when you’re done paying back student loans
I got this piece of advice from Scott Turner and I love it. Take some time to sit down with pen and a paper (and possibly a cocktail) and write down 10 ways your life will be different when you get out of debt.
Think of questions like:
How’s work- do you have more flexible hours?
Your home or apartment- Can you afford a place to live that you can only dream of right now?
Will you be able to buy a piece of designer clothing you have yet to afford?
Dream travels? See yourself jetting to bucket list destinations?
Will you simply be able to sleep better at night?
Whatever it is, it’s super motivating to be able to picture the rewards of your sacrifice. If you enjoy this exercise, tape that piece of paper to your computer or your bedroom door so you see it every single day.
One way I do this is by keeping a debt free diary where I can write about what my life will be like after it’s paid off. Grab your own diary in the side hustler resource library below!
4. See results constantly
Millennials are notorious for needing and wanting results fast. We have reputations of being impatient. I’m not here to discuss the stereotypes of our generation (though I do here), but this is one trait that we can play off of to stay motivated when paying off our student loans.
The hardest part of paying off debt, especially big debt, can be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m currently working on paying off a $12,000 student loan. I have refinanced my loan so that I pay more than my income, but still can feel like I’m just chipping away at it with no end in sight.
So, each week I automatically pull $50 from my checking account into a savings account called “Pay off student loans”, Because my loan servicer won’t accept lump payments (payments in addition to my monthly payments), I set extra money aside and will use it to pay off my loan in full once I have enough saved.
Seeing the amount in that account go up each week continues to remind me that I am on a solid track in paying back student loans and to skip the happy hour or brunch that would cost me that $50.
5. Reward yourself
Rewarding myself has kept me continually motivated and I recommend it! It can be hard sometimes to spend money on excessive things when I know it could go to my loans. But, rewarding ourselves can help us feel like we’re not sacrificing so much while paying back student loans.
It’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on travel, splurges or nights out while you’re working to pay debt. Rewarding yourself with occasional treats help make you feel like you’re still living large.
So, you might not be living that large. But, the sooner you’re doing paying back student loans, the closer you are to it!