Nurse Money: How To Pay Off Nursing School Loans Fast

Nurse Money: How To Pay Off Nursing School Loans Fast

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Are you struggling with how to pay off nursing school loans fast?

The last thing any busy, hard-working nurse wants to think about is how to pay off student loan debt from nursing school.  Unfortunately, you can’t wish it away no matter how hard you try. (Trust me, I’ve tried!)

Nursing school student loan debt will remain right where it is until you get aggressive and attack it. Don’t be the sucker who spends their entire life paying off student loans. They will NEVER go away if you don’t make them, even if you file for bankruptcy.

Becoming a mom changed my financial priorities.

After I became a mother I realized that I needed to get smarter about where my hard-earned money was going.  My nursing school debt needed to go.  Years of making the minimum payment just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Motherhood also taught me something very valuable:  being debt free AND having money in my bank account was way more important than spending money on stuff I didn’t need.  

So I did everything I could think of to motivate myself to get rid of the almost $30,000 in student loan debt that I had. I began by listening to financial podcasts specifically focused on paying off debt.  Then I took everything I had learned from those podcasts and formed my own simple yet aggressive payment plan.

My plan was easy to follow, yet aggressive:  don’t spend any money on anything that is not an actual need.  At that time, my true needs included grocery shopping, housing, pet food, and childcare. That’s it!

It took me close to a year to pay off almost $30,000 in debt from nursing school.  I became debt free on November 1st 2016 and my savings has been steadily growing ever since!

piggy bank surrounded by dollars

How to pay off nursing school loans fast and become a debt free nurse:

1.  Understand that student loan debt is NOT good debt.

There is no such thing as good debt. I don’t care if there is a 0% interest rate. Debt is debt. It is still a black cloud handing over your head that never goes away unless you force it to.

2.  Cut your budget way, way down.  Then cut it again.

Take a look at your budget and be honest about what you actually need.  You need clothes to wear, and I bet you probably already have plenty hanging in your closet.  You may still want to shop for more clothes – but that is where the budget cut starts.  If there is something you absolutely think you need, give yourself  a week to think it over.  You may forget you even thought you wanted it in the first place.

An easy way to start cutting your budget is to cook all of your meals at home and packing a lunch for work.  You also may want to wait until you completely pay your loans off before planning any vacations.

Tip:  Want to know a trick to how to pay off nursing school loans fast?  Plan to give yourself a gift you really want after your payoff is complete!

3.  Contribute the maximum possible amount of your paychecks to your loans.

In order to pay off your student loan debt fast you have to get aggressive.  This means that you need to contribute the maximum possible amount that you can towards your nursing school loan debt.

Pick a date that you want to be completely debt free and figure out how much you need to pay each month to make that happen.  You know what they say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Put your plan in writing and place a copy in several places – on the fridge, on your desk or in your wallet.  Keep it close to you so you are constantly reminded of your payoff goals.

How to pay off nursing school loans fast!

How to pay off nursing school loans fast!

4.  Find your motivation.

I listened to financial podcasts and read a ton of books to motivate myself during my student loan payoff.  Some of the podcasts I listened to included The Money Guys, Stacking Benjamin’s and Dave Ramsey.

What will financially motivate you?  Whatever it is, make sure you think about it everyday.

5.  Work, work, work.

Work no less than 3 shifts a week, but try to work much more if you can.  Overtime is golden if you are able to make time and-a-half or better yet, double time.  It will be hard and you will be tired, but becoming debt free will make it all worthwhile.

6.  Get used to making sacrifices and feeling a little uncomfortable.

Take a look at the things you can reasonably live without.  Brand new clothes and expensive restaurant meals are not necessities. Try going for a run, instead of spending money on a gym.  Learn to cook if you are used to ordering take-out.  Make your coffee at home instead of getting your daily brew at Starbucks.  Making a few sacrifices along your debt-free journey will help speed up your payoff time.

You may even surprise yourself.  In some ways buying less stuff can make your life easier because you don’t have as many things cluttering your home.

7.  Once you are finally debt free keep living on less and keep saving and investing money.

Continue with the same motivation that you had during your payoff and keep saving for the future.  Let your savings gap grow bigger each month.  Lastly, vow not buy unnecessary stuff you don’t actually need that will probably end up in a dump in 5 years anyway.

Are you in the process of paying off your student loans?  Do you have alternative advice regarding how to pay off nursing school loans fast?  We always enjoy hearing from our readers.  Share your tips with other readers.

Additional Recommended Reading:

How I Paid Off 27k In Nursing School Student Loan Debt In 9 Months (And Other Tips For Getting Rid Of Debt)

How I Paid Off 27k In Nursing School Student Loan Debt In 9 Months (And Other Tips For Getting Rid Of Debt)

In March 2013, I graduated from college with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing- and a $36,000 tab.

For my first 2 years out of nursing school I made the minimum student loan debt payment of about $420 a month.  But when I finally sat down and looked at how much of that was going towards interest and how long it would take to finally pay off (13 years, yikes!) it made me sick to my stomach.

After the birth of our daughter I decided to get aggressive about paying off my student loans.

By that time I was down to $27,000.  Becoming a Mom made me realize that being debt free AND having money in my bank account was way more important then spending money on stuff I didn’t need.

Prior to starting my BSN, I had a pretty nice savings account set aside.  Because of that, I was able to pay for 1 year of my prerequisite classes and my first few months of my nursing program upfront in cash.    If it wasn’t for that I would have had well over 50K in student loan debt at graduation.

While I was on maternity leave,  I started listening to financial podcasts specifically focused on paying off debt.  Most of this was done while my daughter and I went out for walks and she was napping.  It motivated me to change my thoughts about my current student loan status.

I took everything I had learned from those podcasts and formed my own simple plan:  Don’t spend any money on anything that is not an actual need.  At that time, my true needs included grocery shopping, pet food, and nanny.  That’s it.

How I Paid Off All My Nursing School Loan Debt In 9 Months!

How I Paid Off All My Nursing School Loan Debt In 9 Months!

My Student Loan Payoff Plan: Pay off $27,000 in student loan debt from February 1 to November 1, 2016.

I am happy to announce that I hit my goal right on target! Here is how I paid off $27,000 off student loan debt in 9 months:

I realized that student loan debt is NOT good debt.

There is no such thing as good debt. I don’t care if there is a 0% interest rate. Debt is debt. It is still a black cloud handing over your head that never goes away unless you force it to.

I trimmed my budget.

Mom and baby Zoe

This photo was taken halfway through my payoff schedule.

So long $5 Starbucks coffee (lucky for me my husband loves to make great coffee at home). Bye bye restaurant meals. Farewell clothing budget.

I also forbade manicures and pedicures (unless done by me). Also, I cooked all of our meals at home, packed all my lunches for work and made all my daughters baby food.

If there was something that I thought I needed but wasn’t sure, I gave myself a week to think it over. Even if it was something small. 99% of the time I ended up deciding that it wasn’t important enough to buy.

When I met with friends, instead of going to lunch, we would go for walks or to the park. Fortunately this is easy when you have babies.

I contributed 90% of my paychecks to my loans.

After taxes, retirement and taking out money to pay the nanny, I took the rest and threw it at my loans. It was anywhere from $1500 to $3500 every 2 weeks depending on how many shifts I worked.
I did the math to figure out my payoff date.

I started on March 1st, 2016 and my goal was to be completely paid in full by November 1, 2016. To make sure I stayed on track I planned a celebratory family trip to Palm Springs for the 2nd week of November.

I listened to financial podcasts to keep me focused and motivated.

As a new mom, it is hard to find time to read books or search the internet for resources on paying off student loans. Listening to financial podcasts was my single most important way to motivate myself during this process. I could multitask by listening to them while out for walks with my daughter.

Some of the podcasts I listened to included Paula Pant at Afford Anything, The Money Guys, Stacking Benjamin’s and Dave Ramsey.

I picked up a few extra shifts at the hospital.

As a per diem float nurse I have the option of working as much or little as I want. For the purpose of paying off my loans as fast as possible I tried to work at least 3 shifts a week. Since I was a new mom I didn’t want to go overboard though. The reason a became a nurse was so I could spend more time at home once we had children.

I made many short term sacrifices and got used to being uncomfortable.

No longer was I spending money on anything that wasn’t a necessity. I did this by taking a look at the things I could reasonably live without. This was the first time in my life I stopped buying clothes and shopping for things I didn’t need. To my own surprise, I’m still alive. In some ways life is actually easier now because I don’t have a ton of extra stuff hanging around cluttering my house. I spend the time I would have spent shopping on doing other things that are more important to me.

After I became debt free I kept my new lifestyle so that I could keep saving and investing at a significantly larger rate.

Baby Zoe playing in ball pit

My motivation for paying off all my nursing school student loan debt.

While this is not a repayment strategy, it does help me find motivation to continue down the right financial pathway now that my loans are gone. Having money in the bank is so much better then having debt. It feels amazing! And my savings gap gets bigger and bigger every month because I focus on growing my assets instead of buying unnecessary stuff that will probably end up in a dump in 5 years anyway.

Advice for anyone going to college:

  • Get the best education you can while spending the least amount of money possible.
  • Don’t take out more loans then you need to.
  • Live as frugally as you can while in school. It’s temporary and you will thank yourself for it in the long run.
  • Make an aggressive plan to pay off you student loans as soon as you graduate.

Don’t be the sucker who spends their entire life paying off student loans. They will NEVER go away if you don’t make them, even if you file for bankruptcy.

Do you have student loan debt? If you work hard and focus on what is actually important in your life, living student loan debt free can be a reality for you too. Now get to it!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love