Health Advocate Blog

Tips to take control of student loan debt

No matter what your age, you may be affected by student loan debt. It’s not something that just affects millennials and Generation Z–people in every generation are burdened by student loan debt. For example, a recent study by Experian shows that even baby boomers are still paying off their student loans, and that this generation holds an average student loan debt balance of $36,246.

And if you’re in college or continuing your education, the pressure of student loan debt and worrying about making ends meet each semester can affect your studies, sleep, and overall mental, emotional and physical well-being. The best way to get out from under the weight of money stress is to keep up with the action steps that can help you stay in control of your finances. Try these tips:

Get educated about your student loan situation. Make sure you understand how much your student loans are really costing you each month, how far your student finance will get you, and where the rest will come from. Know about the interest rates, options of repayment and how to go about consolidating.

Keep tabs on your budget. Stay on top on what you’ve got coming in and what you’re spending. Use an app or money tracker – don’t rely on your ATM statement.

Sharpen your scrimping skills. Never pay full price, whether it’s buying textbooks, treats or clothing. Buy secondhand, barter and look for discounts on everything from bills to bus fares (walking or biking is a great way to save money!).

Ramp up your savings. Can you skim a bit more off your part-time job or start a gig helping others with their resumes, for example? Can you stash away a bit from selling your unwanted items? Building up even a little bit of buffer money can help you feel more in control.

Search for deals. Go to sites like Groupon, Living Social, or the Facebook page of a business before heading out to a destination–many of those sites have deals or coupon codes you can take advantage of. Ask the student affairs office for a list of businesses in your college town that offer student discounts.

Keep investigating forms of additional financial assistance. If you work, for example, ask your employer about tuition assistance for employees. Or check out funds from local businesses, churches or charities.

Avoid taking on new debt. Before turning to credit cards or extra borrowing, talk to your bank about how they can help you manage your debts. Or go to the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling Service (NFCC) website:

Don’t hibernate. Anxiety about money can feel overwhelming and make you want to isolate yourself from others to hide your financial situation. But staying connected with friends is one of the best ways to reduce stress, support your well-being and put money fears in perspective.

Take a breather. Getting regular exercise, eating right, and practicing stress management techniques like yoga or meditation can help you reset a healthier response to financial (or any) anxiety.