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Debt is not something that you want to have looming over your head, especially if you want to eventually purchase a car or have a mortgage.

Trust me.

I learned early on that the debt I incurred in my life was NOT going to simply disappear and if I tried to make that happen in any other way than paying it, my credit score would take an almost permanent nosedive.

What to do was the question that I continued to ask myself, but I eventually was able to answer that question and since I did, I have become debt free and I LOVE it.

Below, I will talk about some tips on how to pay down your debt and what worked for me. I hope that you can take what I did and apply it somehow to your situation and benefit from it.

Refinance When You Can

I owed a lot of money in student loan debt, I am not going to lie to you. When I decided to make the big leap, I still owed $25,000 and it was eating at me.

I wanted to eliminate this debt, but I did not know where to turn because I made payments every month, on time, for the last six years and hardly touched my loan balance.

You see, I was on an income-based repayment plan that limited my payments based on my teacher’s salary. Little did I know that these small payments were barely causing any difference in my principal balance due to the interest being charged.

Wow! What a waste right?

Since I had a good credit score from using a credit card in college, I chose to refinance my student loan debt and I am glad that I did. It took me a while and jumping through some hoops to receive the approval, but I got it.

When I refinanced, my new interest rate was about one in a half to two percentage points LESS than what I was paying, which was incredible for me. I was going to be able to save a TON of money on interest.

In addition, I was able to expedite the repayment term on my student loan, which meant that I did not have to choose the 10, 15, or 20-year repayment options.

One thing I do want to point out is that when you do refinance, make sure you choose a lender who will allow you to pay off your student loans early WITHOUT a penalty. This page has a list of lenders that do not charge prepayment fees.

Live Under Your Means

You have always heard the phrase that people are “living within or above their means.” What this means is that they are choosing to live frugally even though they may be able to live a more extravagant lifestyle.

You want to make sure that you live below your means as you try to pay down your debt. I did it. You will not be alone and you will thank yourself for making the sacrifice – I know I did.

The way I lived below my means was that I stopped going out on the town and I stopped eating food that I did not need.

I did not splurge on meats and I did not stop at fast food restaurants. In addition, I lived with my aunt and uncle until I paid down my student loan debt.

Take on a Side Hustle

I think that everyone should try this side hustle business because I know I LOVED it. I freelanced in writing and I also offered photography services when I was not working in my traditional role as a high school teacher.

Each of my side hustles helped me net a few hundred dollars extra per month when I was working at the high school and in the summer, it helped to directly replace my income that I would have otherwise lost. For freelancing ideas, check out this list of over 70.

Jump in with Both Feet First

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to you is to go ahead and jump in with both of your feet in front of you. The reason I say this is because if you continue to wait, you will never find yourself in a position where you are just ready to pay off your debt.

Make the move happen – that is what I did and I paid off $25,000 of student loan debt in just 15 months.

Jacob is the blogger behind Dollar Diligence. Over there, he talks about budgeting, paying down debt, saving, and side hustles. If you like this article and want to see more, feel free to follow him.

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