- Determine Your Debt- Figure out how much you owe to which lenders, when they will start demanding payment, and how much that will cost you each month.
- Preliminary Budget- Add up your projected expenses (loan payments, rent, utilities, savings, insurance premiums, and food). Cut this down as much as you can. You cannot take a job that pays less than this every month, after taxes.
- Get a Job- Not the job, just a job; preferably in the field you just spend all that time and money learning about. The most important consideration is that it pays more than your minimum expenses. Lock this down, before your grace period expires. Fold jeans in the mall, file paperwork, make sandwiches, not the job, just a job. (You’ll look for the job later, once you’re out of debt and ready to move on.)
- Actual Budget- Adjust your preliminary budget to account for your new income and any new recurring expenses. A simple spreadsheet will do, no need to complicate things. If you’re paid every two weeks, consider budgeting on a 4 week month rather than a calendar month. Once everything is set, stick to it. The budget is law.
- The Grind- Keep your eyes on the prize, set a countdown timer if you like. This is the hardest part, day to day. Get used to saying “I can’t afford it” for the next few years. Regardless of your income level, maximize your loan payments. Don’t just pay the minimum unless you have to, go all in.