When I first graduated college, I did not struggle with my bills because my loans were in deferment. After the six-month deferment period was up, all of a sudden I was in trouble because I had to pay my rent, utilities, cell phone, car payment, car insurance and student loans. I was in sticker shock because I did not realize that about $40,000 dollars of student loans would amount to a monthly payment of about $600. This is something I wish I was showed how to calculate before I went to college. Now this is a priority conversation that I have with my students as we talk about college applications. I needed to find a way to cut back on some of my bills and here is how I did it.
Apply for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan for your Student Loans
Did you know that this is an option? Most of my teacher friends have never heard of this and it has been a lifesaver for me. If you have taken out Federal Loans you can go to the Federal Student Aid Site and look under the Repayment and Consolidation menu there is a place to complete and Income-Driven Repayment Application. There are four different types of plans that you can learn about on the site. Once you fill out the application, your loan provider will determine your eligibility and if you are eligible your provider will select the appropriate plan based on your income and student loan balance. This saved me $400 dollars a month. My plan went from an unmanageable $600 per month to a total of $200 per month.
You will also want to check and see if your student loans are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Some loans in specific career areas are eligible for forgiveness after making 120 payments. Why pay the full amount on the loan if you can apply for income-based repayment and pay the minimum and have the balance forgiven after 10 years? This program has made my loan payments manageable and has made my main focus for paying off my debt my credit card.
This is definitely worth looking into and is not just for teachers. If you have questions about the process, feel free to contact me and I can help guide you through the process.
Make a “Framily” cell phone plan
Most cell phone providers offer a family plan to reduce the cost of cell phone bills for a family. As a single person, I struggled with my cell phone bill because having my own smartphone plan with data cost over $100 per month. So I got together with my friends and we made a friend-family plan, hence “Framily” and split the cost of the bill between everyone on the plan. This made it cheaper for everyone and got the cost to less than $100 dollars per month. It is easy to pay each other month to month with services like Venmo.
Compare Car Insurance Plans
I began to notice that my car insurance plan seemed to go up at the end of every term and that I was spending more money than I needed for the coverage that I need. I called my car insurance provider and asked them if they had any cheaper plans and compared their rates to other companies. After doing the cost comparison, I was able to switch to a cheaper plan and save $40 dollars per month for similar coverage.
Cut the Cable Bill
This is a great way to save money. My cable bill cost about $80 per month and I am not home enough to watch TV. I switched over to Netflix and now I pay less than $10 per month and still get to watch great TV shows.
Making these four simple changes helped me save over $550 in bills per month. That money has helped me pay for other bills and grocery expenses. Once I have found ways to minimize spending, I needed to find ways to increase my income to start tackling my credit card bill. Stay tuned for my post about Side Hustles to see how I started to make extra income.