During the pandemic, federal student loan borrowers got a reprieve from making payments on their debt. But that reprieve is about to come to an end.
Come Aug. 30, those whose student loans were on pause should expect to start making payments again. And if you're in the boat of having to make payments after a lengthy break, it could easily upend your finances.
But if you gear up for those student loan payments now, you might have an easier time managing them once you're officially on the hook. Here are some moves to make now to ease back into student loan payments.
1. Get on a budget
You may have had more wiggle room to spend your money these past few years by virtue of having your student loan payments paused. But once those payments come back into play, you'll need to make sure you can cover them.
That's why now's a good time to set yourself up on a budget. Figure out what your monthly loan payments will entail once they start coming due, and then map out a budget that leaves you the room you need to cover them. You may have to adjust expenses in other categories to allow for those payments, but it's good to figure that out ahead of time.
2. Pick up a side hustle
Despite all the recession warnings experts keep sounding, the labor market is fairly healthy. And that extends to the gig economy.
If you're worried about being able to cover your student loan payments once they resume, get yourself a side hustle now and bank all of the money you earn from it. The good thing is that your extra income won't be earmarked for existing bills, so you should have the option to reserve most of it to tackle your student loans. And if you earn enough, you might manage to avoid a scenario where you have to cut your spending on things that are important to you.
3. Bank some extra cash now
You may not have the ability to pick up a side hustle (say, because your full-time job is too demanding, or because you have kids and they need your attention when you're not at your main job). But that doesn't mean you can't find ways to set aside some extra money now to manage your loans once payments resume.
First, take inventory at home and sell items you don't need, like rarely used electronics or holiday gifts you never touched. You can also seek to reduce your spending in leisure categories this summer so that once your loan payments resume, you'll have a little extra cash in the bank.
Having to start making payments on student loans could be a tricky adjustment. But if you take these steps to prepare, you may find that having to make those payments once again doesn't end up causing you a world of stress.