The College Curse: How to Pay Your Student Loans Without Going Broke

Attending college and earning a degree has become more than just an adventure that a high school graduate experiences for four years. It’s an adult responsibility that can weigh your pockets down until you’re permanently slumped over and depressed. As if eating Ramen noodles in between classes wasn’t enough, now you’re in the workforce and it seems your quality of life hasn’t changed because you’re stuck with an insurmountable mountain student debt.

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According to CNN, the average student loan debt for an undergraduate is about $29,400. For those who are ambitious enough to attend grad school, that number climbs to a median of $57,600.

If you’re struggling to survive with a burden of debt, consider the following tips to free yourself from it.

Cut Down All Your Controllable Expenses

You’d be surprised at the amount of money you’re likely spending each month that you could invest toward your student loan debt. Sure, you’ll have to sacrifice that lavish lifestyle you’ve grown to know and love, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be forever. The sooner you pay if off, the faster you can spend that money on the extras you enjoy.

  • Rent. Sharing a dorm room in college was an experience in itself, but you likely dreamt of the time you could live in an apartment that you could call your own. Well, if you want to pay off your student loan, keep dreaming for a few more years. Living with a roommate might seem like a hassle, but it’s the best way to put more money in your pockets considering rent is the biggest expense you deal with monthly.
  • Cable. Not only is cable TV bad for your mind, but it’s an easy expensive you can cut out of your budget. Instead, opt for streamed shows on your computer or subscribe to cheaper services like Netflix.
  • Gym. Staying active and healthy will help you alleviate some of the stress you feel from having student loan debt, but that doesn’t mean you should be forking over outrageous monthly gym fees in the process. If there’s a facility at work or where you live, use that instead. Instead of the treadmill, run outside.
  • Phone bill. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and buy the newest version of a phone when it comes out. Not only that, but the service provider you decide on can also have a tremendous impact on how much you’re spending each month just to talk and text.
  • Online Classes.A student pursuing a taxation degree can save money and time by supplementing their campus experience with cheaper and more convenient online classes, that still deliver the same, if not better results.

Find Ways to Earn Some Extra Income

Now that you’ve cut out some unneeded expenses out of your life, it’s time to focus on how you can earn some extra income to put toward paying off your student loan debt. Here are a few ideas to help with that.

  • Babysitting/Petsitting. Two things are a fact of life: people have kids and people own animals. If you’re good with either, try your hand at watching them. It’s a relatively easy way to earn a few extra bucks.
  • Tutoring. Considering you went to college, you have some sort of expertise in an area that other people are lacking. Use that to your advantage by offering tutoring services to them.
  • Odd jobs. There’s plenty of odd jobs out there at any time — just check Craigslist’s job section in your area.
  • Mystery shopping. Before you accrued your debt, you probably thought this line of work was a hoax. Well, it’s not, and you should consider doing it to earn money. All you have to do is pretend you’re a customer at a restaurant, hotel, or entertainment venue and report back to the company with your experience.

Talk With Your Loan Advisers and Choose the Right Payment Plan

In addition to cutting out expenses and earning extra income on the side, paying off your student loan debt won’t happen unless you talk with advisers and choose the right payment plan. You should study your financial options as much as you studied for your finals (well, hopefully). The more aware you are of what you can do to pay off your loan faster without burying yourself, the better off you’ll be. So don’t run and hide from your responsibility.

Don’t let the weight of your student debt pummel you into your grave. Face it and pay it off today so you can have a better tomorrow.

photo credit © Sandor Kacso

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SUNsational Summer!

Dr. Kara Beair, DO & Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC
Inspiring Strategies for Success by Friends and Experts You Can Trust

child on the beach

Keep yourself and your kids burn free this summer by taking a few tips to heart. No one is immune from sunburn and skin damage; even those with darker skin tones need to be careful to avoid pain now, and complications later in life. A good majority of sun damage happens in childhood and adolescence.

Invisible ultraviolet rays are harmful, and are just as present on foggy or hazy days as they are on sunny days. In fact, kids play longer when it’s cooler and pleasant, so be even more mindful on those days as normal cues to get out of the sun will be less evident than on blazingly hot days.

UV rays also reflect off a variety of surfaces like sand, water and even snow, so hats blocking the rays above won’t necessarily protect from the rays bouncing off other surfaces. UV rays are at their peak between 10am and 4pm, so take extra care to keep kids out of the sun during that time, or take extra measures of protection.

In addition to the general rules of avoiding excessive exposure, always check with your physician or pharmacist if you or your kids are taking any kind of medication. It may cause extra sensitivity when your skin is exposed to light. Certain medical conditions can also be exacerbated by sun exposure. Apply bug spray and sunscreen at different times, so they don’t interfere with the effectiveness of each other.

Sunburn can appear between six to twelve hours after the exposure, and pain will be most intense during the first day. Sunburn results in pain, redness and warming of the skin. More advanced cases result in fever, blistering, headache, chills and overall feelings of illness. Even without a burn, the skin can still be sustaining harm and potentially long term damage, especially since each exposure builds on previous ones. Adults may suffer from cancer, freckles, wrinkling or toughening of skin.

For red, warm, and painful burns, cool compresses or cool baths will help relieve some of the pain. Acetaminophen can also do the trick – just make sure to check the label or consult your child’s pediatrician for the appropriate dosage for their height and weight.

Call the pediatrician immediately if your child feels generally ill, has chills, headache, fever or blistering. Remember, a sunburn must be treated in severe cases just like any other serious burn. There are times hospitalization is necessary, and if blisters become infected, antibiotics may be in order. Dehydration can lead to heatstroke, so it is better safe than sorry. As is often the case, burns can happen on holidays or weekends, so take advantage of your local urgent care or emergency room if you need to.

Here are some other tips for a pain free summer of sun:

  • Always use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. Apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply every hour, especially if in the water. NO SUNSCREEN IS WATERPROOF.
  • Wear the lightest weight clothing possible with long sleeves and long pants, if appropriate.
  • Use beach umbrellas to create shade.
  • Wear hats with wide brims.
  • Keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight. (If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands).

Information adapted from “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five (2009) from the American Academy of Pediatrics

KaraJBFKimJBF(1)Dr. Kara Beair, DO, is a mom of multiples & a Resident Physician in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics at the University Of Oklahoma School Of Community Medicine

Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and National Certified Counselor

DISCLAIMER:  The information presented in this email or blog and any related links is provided for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. You must never consider any of the information presented here as a substitute for consulting with your physician or health care provider for any medical/mental health conditions or concerns. Any information presented here is general information, is not medical advice, nor is it intended as advice for your personal situation. Please consult with your physician or health care provider if you have concerns about your health or suspect that you might have a problem.

Photo credit © Alena Ozerova

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