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5 Good Ways to Chip Away at Student Loan Payments

Student loan debt remains crippling for a great many people. Earlier this year, it was estimated in fact that the average student debt for those who borrowed for college is $28,950 (with $1.75 trillion owed overall). And while there has been some relief in the form of government assistance, many are still looking for any and every way to get ahead on payments.

Broadly speaking, managing student loan debt is a matter of financial management. It’s not easy by any means, but it is simple: Spend less, don’t waste, and allocate whatever you can toward your debt as efficiently as you can. 

Beyond that, you can also look into specific strategies for eliminating debt. For instance, many try the “debt snowball” method, wherein the smallest loans are addressed first so as to eliminate accruing interest one loan at a time.

In addition to practicing sound financial management and debt reduction strategy though, many who are saddled with student loan debt make efforts to supplement their income on the side.

After all, if you’re able to establish a second stream of incoming cash to direct toward debt payments, you’ll quickly find yourself in better standing. But are there actually good ways to pull this off?

The answer is that, depending on your personal situation and any skills you might have, you may well be able to supplement your income –– be it through tutoring math students for two hours a week or having some luck in the investment markets. Here, though, we’ll look at some popular avenues people tend to explore and assess their viability.

1. Freelance Writing

Look up ways to make spare money online, and you’ll almost always find freelance writing at the top of the list. Furthermore, it’s true that freelancer earnings can make a difference. 

Writers can make $100 per hour or more for the right kind of work (and other freelancers like graphic designers and web developers can make similarly strong rates). 

However, these kinds of rates aren’t always easy to find. The vast majority of freelance writing jobs pay relatively little; it takes diligence, talent, and a portfolio to secure the jobs that pay well enough to make a difference.

Verdict: Freelance writing can help you, but don’t expect to make thousands each month.

2. Selling Crafts

Thanks to a number of platforms that have simplified online retail selling (such as Etsy or Amazon), a lot of people looking for side income these days also turn to crafting and selling their own goods.

These goods can be anything from homemade jewelry to small drawings or paintings –– and in the best of scenarios, they can net sellers $1,000 or more per month. 

In other words, if you have a talent for crafting one sort of thing or another, you have a chance to develop a decent income stream. At the same time, however, crafting isn’t the only job at hand. To succeed with your own retail operation, you’ll also need to devote time to shipping, marketing, and general management of the business.

Verdict: You can make money, but it’s a major effort.

3. Playing Poker

While poker is understood to be a game at least partially of chance, there are consistently tales of people using it as a side income stream.

Look online and you’ll find personal accounts of how people make $2,000 a month, or $400 a week, etc. What’s important to recognize however is that these are outliers. It is possible to gain an edge in the game. 

You can learn to calculate poker odds such that you recognize the likelihood of hitting a good hand, and you can determine whether or not it’s strategically advantageous to take a bet. 

This takes time and practice, however, and it’s not foolproof. At best you’ll gain a marginal advantage that, over time, can translate to more wins than losses. And chance is always in play.

Verdict: It’s possible to position yourself to win money in poker. But as there are no guarantees (even with effort), this is best viewed as a game. Only play with what you can afford to lose.

4. Play-to-Earn Gaming

Play-to-earn gaming is a relatively new concept, but a simple one. Basically, it refers to any game in which the time you spend playing (and earning achievements, advancing levels, etc.) translates to monetary earnings (typically in cryptocurrency or NFT form).

Average earnings from games in this category are difficult to calculate because the game setups and earning rates vary. But in the best of cases (such as with 3-4 hours a day in the popular game Axie Infinity) players can bring in daily earnings amounting to $1,200 a month. This is real income, and it’s obtained via entertainment. But lots of time is required to reach this level.

Verdict: You can certainly earn spare cash, but be careful you aren’t undervaluing your time; you may earn more by pursuing another endeavor with those hours.

5. Cutting Subscriptions

Finally, there’s the method of cutting subscriptions, which we’ve discussed in the past. Using the example of Netflix, we noted that at $19.99/month, it would take most students about 155 years to finish off loan payments with subscription fees.

It’s not exactly encouraging. With that said, however, if you happen to have several expensive subscriptions you don’t use –– and you can cut them and reallocate funds toward your payments –– it definitely helps! Even an extra $30 or $40 per month can help to reduce those debts and cancel out interest payments in a hurry.

Verdict: It won’t solve your problem, but if you have subscriptions you can cut, go for it!

Paying off loans is a challenge any way you look at it. But we hope this look at some popular side income options can help you to fine-tune your approach and strip down those debts.