One of the tried-and-true paths to financial freedom is learning how to manage your budget to pay your loans off early. By paying a loan off ahead of schedule, you could save money on interest and free up cash for other expenses. If you assume that your current budget won’t allow for increased or additional loan payments, you may want to take a closer look. Finding even a small amount to put toward your personal loan balance can go a long way.
Here are four approaches that will help you pay off debt faster:
1) Make Biweekly Payments, Rather Than Monthly
Making a smaller loan payment every two weeks is one of the best ways to pay off a loan faster. Doing this can shorten the life of your loan. It will also reduce the total interest paid on daily simple interest loans, and in some cases, on precomputed interest loans as well, potentially saving you quite a lot of money. Paying more than the minimum in two smaller installments can also be easier from a cashflow standpoint.
For example, let’s say your normal monthly payment is $300. If you instead make a $175 payment every two weeks, you’re actually paying $50 more each month in two smaller chunks. As long as you continue to pay a little more than the minimum amount, you’re ahead of the game!
Be sure to consult your lender before starting biweekly payments. Different lenders have different policies, and you should make sure your new payment structure will produce the results you are looking to achieve.
2) Make an Extra Payment Toward Your Personal Loan
Some people might prefer to make one or more extra payments per year. Others may also choose to pay a small extra payment on top of their regular loan payment when they can. Here’s some ideas for coming up with the cash for extra payments:
- Money set aside throughout the year
- Birthday money
- Holiday money
- Work bonuses
Everyone’s situation is unique, so these are just some basic, widely applicable ideas. The impact on your loan can vary based on the timing at which you make your additional payment(s).
3) Round Up Your Loan Payment
If you have room in your budget, round up your payment amount. Rounding up your loan payment is a simple yet effective method to paying off debt faster. After a few months, your new payment amount may become routine as the extra money chips away at your principal balance.
Here’s a simple example of how this works: Let’s say you have a monthly payment of $440.27, and you decide to round it up to an even $500/month. That extra $59.73 you’re paying each month is deducted from your principle and saves you some serious money in the long run.
4) Look Into Refinancing Your Loan
If your personal loan provider offers refinancing, it may be worth looking into. Choosing to refinance Refinancing your personal loan can help you pay it off faster, make payments more manageable or possibly save money on interest. It is important to consider the following before you decide to apply for refinancing:
Credit score – If your credit score has improved since you acquired your loan, you could have better odds at getting approved for refinancing. The three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) developed the FICO score®, which is the most well-known credit score. Another important one is your VantageScore®, which is designed to be measured against FICO, and is used by creditors to assist with lending decisions. You can sign into your OneMain account to view your VantageScore now, or get it by contacting one of the credit bureaus directly (this may require you to pay a fee).*
Payment history – Do you have a good payment history? Lenders will want to see that you pay your accounts on time.
Loan amount – The amount being refinanced may also influence your odds at getting approved. However, some lenders put more weight on credit score and payment history than the remaining loan amount.
Be aware that refinancing may extend the life of your loan. Carefully consider all options and consult your lender or financial advisor before making a decision to refinance a personal loan.
Take Small Steps Toward a Big Goal
Any one of these methods can help you pay your loans off faster, but it’s not something that should be rushed into without doing research. As you compare the options, consider speaking to your loan specialist or financial advisor to figure out which approach is the best fit for your needs.
To get a sense of where you stand, check out our personal loan calculator to estimate how quickly you can pay off your loan and continue your progress toward financial freedom.
*The credit score provided is for educational purposes only. We do not guarantee that the credit score shown will be used by us or third parties to assess your creditworthiness or eligibility for any particular product or service or for employment.
*This article has been updated from its original posting on May 19, 2016. Matt Diehl contributed to this article.