Congratulations! You’ve graduated. But you haven’t yet been hit with the reality of repaying all those student loans. You are likely very much enjoying your grace period. How about instead of ignoring the inevitable you take advantage of this time? Here are some things you can do to take advantage of your grace period.
In case you didn’t know, a grace period is the time between when you finish school and when you have to start paying back your student loans. It is usually around six months but can be longer.
1. Get Your S**t Together
I know that after that dreadful exit interview the last thing you want to do is look at your loans, but you’ve got to do it eventually, may as well do it now.
Figure out how much you owe, then use a tool like the Student Loan Hero dashboard to figure out how much your payment will be under different repayment plans. If you cannot afford to make payments under the standard repayment plan you will need to contact your loan provider to apply for a flexible repayment plan.
Then you’ll need to follow through to get that Income-Driven Repayment application completed and submitted. If you don’t the default will be to repay under the standard repayment plan and when that first bill comes due you will freak out.
2. Practice Paying That Bill
Once you know approximately how much your student loan payment will be each month, starting setting that amount aside each month. Put that money into a savings account (Capital One is my Favorite), this is a great way to start an emergency fund.
It will also let you get some low-risk practice runs in with that post-grad budget. The sooner you are used to paying that bill the less you will have to worry about when the bill actually comes due.
3. Learn to Budget
I’ve mentioned being able to practice your budget with that bill, but if you don’t already know how to budget then now is the time to learn. I even have a How to Budget Guide you can use. Budgeting or at the very least knowing how you are spending your money is key to financial success.
Because I hate to be the one to tell you this, but taking care of your money (so that it can take care of you later on) is part of the whole “adulting” thing everyone has to do. I promise you will be glad you started sooner rather than later.
Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top
Your grace period is a great time to start practicing good financial habits. Especially since you have the safety net of not actually having to repay your student loans yet. Take this time to figure out how you best work with your money. There are tons of different budgeting styles and tools, play Goldilocks until you find the one that works best for you. At the very least try to take this time to set aside a little money into savings, I promise that you’ll be glad you did.
Any questions about your Grace Period? Let me know in the comments!