Student Loan Battle Plan, Step One: Know your Enemy

There is no single story about paying off student loans that is a model for us all. Some of us have help from our families, some of us have no support system. Some of us were able to get a job right away, some of us floundered for years. Some of us borrowed a little, some of us borrowed a lot.

However, the key to success in paying off student loans is to approach it like you are going to war. The loan is an enemy to obliterate. You need to know the enemy and the battlefield, come up with a strategy, and stick to a plan.

So here's the attack plan that I wish someone had told me about.

Step One: Know your Enemy.

 You can't destroy what you don't know. Make a list of your loans, or better yet, a spreadsheet. Here is the info you need to shovel up for each loan:

  1. Servicer (Navient? Great Lakes? Private bank like Discover?)
  2. Loan Type (Federal / Private)
  3. Servicer contact info or website
  4. Outstanding Balance
  5. Interest Rate
  6. Monthly Minimum Payment
  7. Due Date of Monthly Minimum Payment
  8. Terms of Loan (Eligible for Income Based Repayment? Something else?)
Don't know where to find all this info? Think there might be straggler student loans that haven't contacted you yet? Check your credit report- all the culprits will be there. (here's how to check your credit report.)

Once you have all your information together, it is time to figure out your optimal paydown plan and consider consolidation. That's the next step.

Side Note: Student loan servicer Navient got in a LOT of trouble recently with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On January 18, 2017 the CFPB filed a complaint against Navient in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Act.

In plain English, this means that Navient is in trouble for treating customers like mushrooms: feeding them full of sh*t and keeping them in the dark.

That means not doing their duty to inform people about payment plans that would be helpful to them. I wish it weren't so, but we are living in a world where we can't trust what comes directly from the servicer. Remember to always use the phone recording trick when talking to them, and use another source to confirm what they tell you.


  1. If you don't retain lots of money beneath your bed, sooner or later you're going to have to take out financing to buy something.

    1. Oh dear, what a funny comment to leave on this site. Around here, we don't retain money under the bed. We keep it in savings accounts, checking accounts, and investment accounts where it can grow and make more money for us. We believe in spending less than we earn and we sacrifice things we really want sometimes to stay out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. With the exception of student loans and occasionally mortgages, if we can't afford something with the money we already have, we try our darnedest not to buy it. Because buying something with borrowed money makes it more expensive in the end.

      I think you picked the wrong site to advertise loans on! Shame on you for normalizing consumer debt!

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