Millennials and Gen Xers are saddled with the burden of student loan debt. More than 40 million Americans have student loan debt according to MarketWatch totaling $1.2 trillion dollars. As of 2017, Student Loan Hero reports that the average student loan balance for the Class of 2016 was $37,172.
Luckily, there is hope for the hard-working individual who is motivated to crush that student loan debt.
Enter the Side Hustle
In my opinion, side hustles are the BEST way to pay off your student loan debt fast.
Side hustles are gigs outside the 9 to 5 that you can use to make extra money. There are seemingly an infinite number of ways to earn extra money, from selling stuff on Craigslist to getting a part-time job delivering pizzas to creating an online course and more.
If you have a salaried job, your earning potential might be limited, especially if you don’t get any kind of bonus or incentive program. Thus, side hustling is the best way to supplement your income so that you can pay off your debt faster.
Beyond the extra cash, side hustling offers many more benefits.
Side hustles give you the freedom to try something new without much risk. When you graduate college with student loan debt, you need your job to pay your bills. Quitting your job to pursue a new interest is likely out of the question until you’re debt free; starting a new gig on the side is a great, low-risk alternative.
Side hustling can also be a form of personal expression. If you’re an artist, but your day job keeps you at a computer 8 hours a day, you can use your artistic abilities for a side hustle — a low-risk alternative that allows you to get the best of both worlds while you make progress on your student loan debt.
Side hustles are flexible. Unlike your regular job, your side hustle may not have a set schedule. If you work for yourself, you can hustle when you want to, especially if your side hustle involves some kind of online work you can do from home.
In choosing a part-time job as a side hustle, you’ll likely trade your flexibility for an hourly wage. While part-time jobs aren’t necessarily flexible, this might be just one of several side hustles you pursue.
You can also choose more than one side hustle! In the evenings, you might be an Uber driver. On weekends, you might complete SEO audits of websites. Choose your adventure(s).
Learn more about SEO as a side hustle with this free email course. Sign up now!
Having a side hustle gives you the ability to generate additional income. Assuming your day job covers all of your living expenses, you can use all of the income from your side hustle to pay off your student loan debt faster.
Let’s say that you start a couple of side hustles: Uber driver and SEO consultant. You decide to work on the weekends only.
Uber drivers make an average of $19 per hour. If you work Saturday evening for 5 hours, you can expect to make almost $100. Over the course of a month, you can make an extra $400 that you can apply to your student loan debt.
With your computer and Internet access, you work as an SEO consultant on Sunday afternoon for 5 hours making $75 per hour. Over the course of a month, you can earn extra $1,500. More money to apply to your student loan debt!
If you were in the Class of 2016 and you graduated with $37,172 in debt, your regular monthly payment is likely $427.78 for the next 10 YEARS.
If you add your side hustle income to your regular monthly payment, you could pay $2,327.78 to your student loan debt each month. Paying $2,327.78 to your student loans each month means you could be debt free in less than two years!
Related Post: SMART Goals for Side Hustlers
Making Money With a Side Hustle
There are two ways you can make money with a side hustle: selling a product or offering a service.
Selling products could be as simple as selling the stuff you own. If you sell $200 of stuff you aren’t using, perhaps using Craigslist or eBay, you have $200 to apply to your student loan debt. Selling your stuff is a great way to kick off side hustling and get rid of stuff you no longer use.
You could also create products, like eBooks, online courses, t-shirts, Etsy crafts, and more. Not as easy since it requires time and a little money to market your original product. But creating and selling your own product can help you generate additional income for years to come.
You could also sell other people’s stuff. You can help people by listing their stuff on eBay. You can start your own online store selling goods that already exist.
Some of the downsides of selling products includes taxes, shipping fees, and returns. If you think you want to sell products, do lots of research to ensure you’ve set up your side hustle properly in your state or country.
Selling your time as a service is a great way to start a side hustle quickly. There is an endless list of services you could perform for others to make extra money.
- House cleaning
- Car detailing
- Lawn mowing
- Dog walking
- Cat sitting
- Freelance writing
- Social media management
- and many, many more
Service-based side hustles tend to be the easiest and least expensive to start. Pick a service, find a client, and you’re ready to go!
Offer a service to supplement your income, something in demand, and you’ll soon find yourself with plenty of clients and hundreds or thousands extra each month to crush that student loan debt.
Tips for Paying Off Your Student Loans Faster
You do not have to wait 10 years to pay off your student loans. You absolutely can pay off your loans faster with these tips!
1. Create a budget.
Track your spending for a month and create a budget. You might have more money than you think that you can use to pay on your student loans. Use any surplus in your budget to put toward your student loan balance.
2. Avoid spending temptations.
Making extra money is awesome. Being in debt is not awesome. When you’re confronted with opportunities to spend money, remember how NOT awesome it is to have student loan debt. Avoiding temptations to spend money will help you pay off your student loan debt faster.
Focus on crushing your debt for a couple of years. When you’re debt free, you have more flexibility to spend.
3. Start a side hustle (or two!).
If you have stuff you don’t use, sell it and apply the money you make to your student loan balance. This quick win is a great way to kick off your accelerated debt repayment.
While you’re waiting for your stuff to sell, pick a service and find your first client.