Do you have student loans? Won’t you love to destroy them and be debt-free? What would you do with the cash flow you free up once your student loans are paid off? I’d like to invite you to join me in a movement to terminate the deadly burden of student loans.
Under my cover as a mom, radiology resident, blogger, gourmet chef, USMLE tutor, my true identity is a terminator, specifically programmed to terminate deadly student debts. Below, I will share my weapons of termination in hopes of eliminating student debt on the scale of an entire generation.
- Credit cards.
- I charge all my expenses that are chargeable onto my credit cards and funnel my (limited) cash flow towards debts with interests. There are lots of variations in terms of what can be charged on a credit card. Some people’s circumstances even allow them to pay for rent on credit card. At one point, I used to pay my landlord by charging her necessities such as gas and groceries on my credit cards. This takes a little more effort than just writing a check.
Now, I buy thousands of dollars’ worth of grocery gift cards (enough to last 6-12 months because once a year there’s a 10% discount on gift cards). I also pay my electricity one year in advance. Funneling cash this way, often got me negative 1-5% interest, which gave me more cash to pay down student loans. But there’s a limit to this.`
- This second method, balance transfer checks, usually allows for more aggressive paying down of a higher interest debt. The cheapest balance transfer checks I got was with Travelocity American Express at 1% transaction fee for 0% APR for a year. So by writing a check of $15,000 towards a debt such as student loan at @ 6.8% interest rate, I would save 5.8% for the next 12 months. The balance transfer transaction fee is charged up front, so just be sure that if your limit is $15,000, that you write a check in the amount lower than the limit enough to pay for the fee. This is to ensure that the check goes through, and you’re not charged an additional fee. (I have never gotten a fee before, as I always err on the safe side.)
- There is one card that does not charge transaction fee for balance transfer if you use it within 60 days of account opening. You can read about it here.
- Some banks allow you to open a new checking account by funding it with a credit card. You need to be very cautious with this. You need to make sure that funding is equivalent to a purchase, and not considered a cash advance. When your credit card company processes funding a new bank account as a purchase, that purchase will give you cash back (if your card offers cash back features). When your credit card company processes funding a new bank account as a cash advance, you will be charged an interest of 20-30% starting the day the transaction posts. So this method only works if your credit card company processes your act of funding a banking account as a purchase.
For a while residents and fellows have no refinancing options to lower their student loan interests. However, mid 2015, private banks began to offer student loan refinancing to residents and fellows so no one needs to suffer the 3-7 years of debt snowballing at 6.8+% during training. The only drawback is that you forego loan forgiveness when you refinance. (My mentor Dr. James Dahle @ whitecoatinvestor.com commented that “student loan refinancing isn’t new. It just went away for a few years. My class all refinanced at 1-2% back in 2003.”) To think that the refinancing option disappeared for a while and all the PGY’s who suffered through their debt snowballing during training, until 2 private banks come along and start refinancing student loans during PGY.
- Home equity loan.
Home equity loan is frequently much cheaper than 6.8%. It’s a perfectly simple, passive, effortless way to make your hard earned dollar go further. With lower interest rate, every dollar you dedicate to your debt pays down a greater percentage of principle.
For 7 more ways to terminate your student loan, read the full article published on Physician’s Money Digest here.
Then make comment or ask questions on this blog, drwisemoney.com; I usually answer them within 24-36 hours.