Millennials are broke. Ironically, the college education that the demographic prizes, that enlightens them and defines their generation, is also the impetus for millennials' crushing and soul-deadening debt. On average, the class of 2015 graduated with $35,000 in debt — and with few job prospects, forecasting a reasonable repayment timetable with minimal accrued interest seemed slim to none. Exacerbating this grim outlook is the fact that student loans cannot be forgiven, even if you die.
However Sisyphean debt repayment feels, all hope is not completely lost. Here are four ways you can minimize the pain of a looming debt repayment (perhaps even pay it off in full), even though you're broke AF:
0. Learn the Terminology
Before you do anything, it would prove wise to (re)familiarize yourself with all the financial terminology and vernacular. StudentLoans.gov has a nice glossary of all the pertinent terms and acronyms you might come across in a loan agreement.
1. Debt prioritizing
You can take two approaches with this: the "debt snowball" method (which involves paying off the smallest balances first) or the "debt avalanche" method (which involves making minimum payments on all outstanding loans, but then siphoning all extra money to the loan with the highest interest). Each method has its financial (and psychological) pros and cons, so use the one that is more feasible and makes the most sense in regard to your income.
2. Seeking out debt management or credit counseling services
If you need help implementing said prioritization, seeking out professional counseling for debt and credit might prove to be a good investment, especially if your debt is complicated with private loans — in contrast with fixed interest rates for federally subsidized student loans, interest rates for private loans are typically higher, and can require repayments while you're still in school. Furthermore, some private loans cannot be consolidated, which can limit how you go about repaying all your loans in full.
3. Debt consolidation
Speaking of which: Consolidation, as the name of the idea implies, is a good way of simplifying all your loans into one centralized bill. Federal Student Aid notes that consolidation "can lower monthly payments by giving you up to 30 years to repay your loans," and more importantly, you might be able to negotiate from a loan with a variable interest rate to one with a fixed interest rate. With that said, Federal Student Aid recommends you consider the feasibility of your loan consolidation; though you get a perk or two from consolidating, you might needlessly tack on additional years (and by extension, accrued interest) of being in debt.
4. Use cash
In other words: Stop incessantly charging stuff to your credit card. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't spend money that you don't have on stuff that you don't necessarily need (unless it's akin to the aforementioned credit counseling). Studies have shown that people who use cash to make purchases are less likely to overspend than those who purchase things with a credit card. If you really cannot tear yourself away from the convenience of charging everything (as opposed to carrying wads of cash), try to get into the habit of treating your credit card like a debit card instead.