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How to Start Chipping Away at Your Mountain of Student Debt

Written by Emily Payne

Looking to start chipping away at your mountain of debt?

Play Just For Funds Trivia for some tips,  and you could win $1,000* just for playing.

Between the costs of electronics, textbooks, and not to mention grocery costs, your mountain of debt is probably growing as fast as the mountain of dirty-laundry you’ve got piling in your room during exam season.

(PRO TIP: doing consistent but reasonably-sized loads of laundry prevents having to shove an unholy amount of clothes into the communal washing machine of your student house).

Managing responsibilities before they become overwhelming is the same concept that CIBC Pace It™ Installment Plans hope to help with. You can convert eligible purchases of $250◊ or more into Installment Plans, which help you spread out your payments into monthly installments over a term you choose, at lower interest rates. Basically, it helps you keep up with student expenses, whether they are planned or unplanned. The Installment Plans are available on most CIBC credit cards, some conditions apply.

But, back to the debt thing.

The average debt-ridden student graduating from university owes $26,819, according to the Canadian University Survey Consortium’s latest annual report.

Head meet wall.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ll be paying off your student loans in the not-so-distant future. Thankfully, there are ways to make paying off student debt manageable and even enjoyable. Frugality Magazine recently published this guide to making debt repayment fun.

Here are some of our favorites from the article, and a few extras from around the web adapted to be realistic for student budgets and the schedules of young professionals.

Turn your passion into a side hustle

It’s not kindergarten anymore. Adults have stopped saying “follow your dreams” and started saying “be realistic.” Actually, in a lot of cases, you can make a living out of your passion. Love making art or jewelry? Sell your stuff on sites like Etsy. Bitten by the writing bug? Tackle some freelance articles for publications you love to read. It’s all about finding your niche.

The Guardian published a handy guide with tips for people looking to start a side gig, and there are countless bloggers out there sharing their stories about how they did it.

Set little targets and reward yourself for meeting them

Paying off debt quickly doesn’t necessarily mean depriving yourself of all joys in life.

Sometimes it can be fun to make a game out of paying off debt by setting goals for yourself (beyond the minimum amount due) and treating yourself when you meet them. Something as simple as a pair of jeans for every $1,000 off your debt is a great incentive and offers some occasionally important instant gratification.

Make a (realistic) budget

In order to set aside enough money to start chipping away at your debt, you need to ensure you have enough money each month to set aside after your bills.

It’s important when you’re making a budget to take into account all of your spendings. Don’t forget to budget for entertainment, fun, and unexpected expenses. Take your receipts and break them all down. Once you know where your money is going, then you can look at where you can trim the financial fat.

The CIBC Student Budget Calculator is a useful tool for helping you to stay on track.

Don’t wait!

Being a student is expensive. That’s why we take out loans, right? It seems counterproductive to take out loans only to pay them back right away, but chipping at your student debt while still in school, even if it’s only $10 a month, can save you mass amounts in interest payments later on, and you can generally chip away even more in the summer while working full time. You’ll thank yourself later.

Invest (if you can)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a huge lump sum or a lot of disposable income to start investing. Many banks can get you started with just a few hundred dollars.

Making your money work for you while you’re in school can give you some extra money to put a dent in your debt down the road. However, it is important to do your research! A good place to start is your bank, where you can sit down with a financial advisor and discuss your options. You can set up a meeting with a CIBC advisor online. It’s easy peasy steak and cheesy.

One of the things you want to think about is how much of a risk you want to take, what kind of investments you want, and how much you’re willing and able to contribute. The Canadian Bankers Association sums up different kinds of investments and offers a guide to help you decide which is right for you.

Prioritize your repayments

This is probably one of the simplest, and simultaneously one of the most important. Prioritize paying off the loans with the highest interest rates first, since these are the loans that will cost the most in the long run. Credit cards generally accrue the highest interest rates (averaging around 20% annually), but it’s important to do your research.

Don’t forget that in addition to all of these debt-minimizing strategies, CIBC Pace It Installment Plans are also a thing. As long as you have an eligible CIBC credit card, you can convert a large purchase into anInstallment Plans and pay them off at a pace you choose with lower interest rates.

If you don’t already have an eligible CIBC credit card, fret not. Opening a new account can get you the CIBC Pace It feature and much more. And since you’re an SLNer, you’ll also receive a free digital SPC membership saving you money on everyday student needs AND you may be automatically entered to win our Full Ride giveaway for a shot at winning $35,000 to cover tuition.

So basically, opening a new credit card account means you can get: CIBC Pace It Installment Plans with lower interest rates. Discounts on the coolest swag. A chance to win $35,000 tuition◊◊.

That’s a big deal.

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open February 16th, 2019 at 12:01 a.m Eastern Time (“ET”) to March 15th, 2019 at 11:59:59p.m. ET to legal residents of Canada who are sixteen (16) years of age or older and are current students of an accredited Canadian university, college or secondary school. One (1) $1,000 prize available. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Math skill test required. Full Contest Rules available here.

† To be eligible for a free SPC membership, you must hold an eligible CIBC product at the time you register for the membership, which you must do through CIBC online or mobile banking. Eligible CIBC products include a CIBC Youth or Student bank account, Student credit card or Student line of credit. A complete list of eligible CIBC products can be found at Joint account holders of eligible CIBC products are not eligible for membership. You must also be a legal resident of Canada who is fourteen (14) years of age or over, but under the age of thirty (30) years if the eligible CIBC product you use to qualify for the membership is a student line of credit. The membership will automatically renew and remain in effect for as long as you hold an eligible CIBC product. Trade-mark/registered trademark of Student Price Card Ltd.

1. Source:

◊ CIBC Pace It™ Installment Plans allow primary cardholders to convert posted eligible Card Transaction(s) to monthly installment payments (including interest) over a fixed
period of time. When you create an Installment Plan you will have the ability to choose the payment term (in months) with a corresponding annual interest rate. A One Time
Installment Fee of 1.50% of the purchase amount applies. Once you accept the Installment Plan Terms and Conditions and create the Installment Plan through CIBC Online or
Mobile Banking, you can cancel it at any time but you cannot change it. CIBC Pace It™ Installment Plans are only available: (a) on Accounts in good standing; (b) for certain
eligible Card types and eligible Transactions; and (c) to non-Quebec residents.

◊◊ NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open January 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020 to legal residents of Canada who are sixteen (16) years of age or older and are current students of an accredited Canadian university, college or secondary school. One (1) Grand Prize available to be won consisting of: one (1) cheque for $8,750 made payable to the winner; one (1) 1-year GIC for $8,750 opened in the winner’s name; one (1) 2-year GIC for $8,750 opened in the winner’s name, and one (1) 3-year GIC for $8,750 opened in the winner’s name. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Math skill testing question required. Full Contest Rules Règlements officiels d’inscription au Concours

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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.