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This economic mistake is taking Americans almost 20 years to recover



Most Americans live with some form of financial regret, according to a 2019 New York Life study that polled 2,200 adults about their financial failures.

Participants ranked "not saving enough for retirement" as their # 1 financial regret in general, but "taking too many student loans" is the biggest monetary mistake that took the longest time to recover.

The average participant reported paying down student loans for 18.5 years, starting 26 years and ending 45 years. .

Spending a significant portion of your life paying back school fees is a reality many Americans have. In 201

8, 69% of students took loans and graduated with an average of $ 29,800 in student loan debt, according to statistics from Student Loan Hero. The typical repayment period for borrowers who have between $ 20,000 and $ 40,000 in federal student loans is 20 years, reports the Department of Education.

Smart Strategies to Get Back from Student Loans

Since everyone's student loan debt situation is different, it is not a size that is suitable for everyone to speed up debt. But there are some strategies that will make you smarter (and hopefully more efficient) in eliminating your college fees for good.

1. Getting to know your debt

The first step is to get hold of your debt. Start by calling student loan lenders to find out how much you owe and the interest rates. If you are unsure of how many loans you have, check the National Student Loan Data Loan for more information on your federal loans. And for private loans, you can check your credit report to identify any outstanding debt.

After you round up your loans, keep the information organized by creating a spreadsheet with separate columns indicating the lender's name, the amount you owe the respective interest rates and due dates for each loan.

When you pay, you can update the spreadsheet so that you can visually see the amount decrease. This "will give you a mental gain to move forward and pay off the debt," Ryan Marshall, a New Jersey-based certified financial planner, told CNBC Make It.

2. Determine Your Payment Strategy

Once you have written down all this key information, it is time to think about a repayment strategy that will motivate you.

First, you must pay the minimum amount for each loan each month. Once you have set up auto payments for each loan, you can make a plan to spend extra money on the loans if you want to pay off the debt faster.

There are two popular methods that financial experts recommend paying down debt. The first is the "snowball method." Using this technique, you identify your smallest loan and pay it first. "It may seem the opposite, but this technique helps build confidence," says Marshall. "After the loan is repaid, you can use the payments that were previously set aside for the smaller loan to pay off the larger loans."

Others prefer the "avalanche method", where you focus on paying down the loan with the highest interest rate first. This strategy is mathematically designed for speed, and you ultimately pay less in interest.

Your payment developments can also help speed up the process. If you can afford to pay bi-weekly loans, rather than monthly, it will reduce the total repayment period and interest due.

3. Consider Your Options

Should you refinance or consolidate your loans? While both options work to gather multiple loans into one, they work differently and have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Refinancing your student loans is sometimes a good idea if you want to lower interest rates, monthly payments, or length (aka the term of the loan, explains Douglas A. Boneparth, a New York-based certified financial planner and president of Bone Fide Wealth. [19659002] You need to apply to refinance your loans the same way you apply for a new credit card, each lender usually has their own criteria to consider who they want to refinance, and they look at factors such as credit score and income.

are some potential drawbacks to refinancing. First, some student loan refinancing companies will make exaggerated claims about how much debt they can save you, and by refinancing, you may also lose out on certain benefits, such as alternative payment options such as income repayment plans offered with federal loan, explains Boneparth.

Student loan consolidation is another repayment ing option that involves combining multiple loans into one. These loans have a fixed interest rate that is calculated when you take the weighted average of interest rates on all the loans you pool and round it to the nearest eighth percent.

While it may be convenient to consolidate and have all your loans in one place, Marshall says you should be careful when considering this repayment path, since "it is not always in your best interest," he says.

Consolidating your debt can sometimes lead to short-term restrictions thanks to lower monthly payments, but in the long run you may end up paying more in interest, according to Experian.

Whether you refinance or consolidate your loans, "always know the numbers and make sure you ask for the hidden costs," says Marshall.

4. Be prepared to sacrifice

The reality is that if you have a laundry list of student loans to repay, an effective repayment process will take sacrifice and motivation.

"One trick is to choose three items that you are going to sacrifice for the year and use the money you would use to pay down loans," says Marshall.

These victims can be anything from moving back to your parents, getting a roommate to cut down on living expenses, packing lunch, getting sidetracking or selling old valuable items, Marshall explains.

"Moving home can save you thousands a month," says Marshall. "And while it may seem like a small change, saving lunch every day can save you $ 15 a day or $ 3,600 a year."

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