Seeking Advice From Siblings on Student Debt
As the American student debt crisis looms, more and more families are being burdened. For 2018 graduates, the average student loan debt was $28,500 . So, while it may seem like you’re alone in dealing with your debt and you may feel like you are facing a lifetime of anxiety, know that 60% of student loan borrowers expect to pay off their student loan debt in their forties .
As with any difficult situation, it is important to have people to talk to. Financial advisors are helpful, but family and friends can also provide crucial support and guidance.
Financial matters can be difficult to discuss, and many feel a sense of embarrassment when talking about debt, but there is no reason to be ashamed. If you are having a hard time broaching the subject with your family, you might want to start with your siblings, if you have any. They might be able to give you straightforward, tailored advice for paying off student loans.
Here are some reasons why your brother or sister could be a good shoulder to lean on.
They’ve Been There Before
If you’re the younger sibling, you’re in luck. While you could spend a lifetime debating the pros and cons of being older or younger, there is one way it is definitely better to be younger: The older sibling has already done the dirty work.
They probably filled out the federal financial aid forms, made some student loan mistakes you could learn from, applied for private loans, and they know the ins and outs of your family’s income.
You can start consulting with your older sibling from the get-go. Did they wish they’d gone to a state school and taken out less in student loans? Did they wish they only did one major so they could graduate early? Did they regret doing their school’s pricey study-abroad program instead of living abroad on their own? Hopefully, they will be forthcoming in their responses.
Since your siblings are born of the same experience as you, their answers could provide a perspective you may not get outside of the family.
They might be able to think outside of the box because of their own experience, and, since they’ve known you for some major portion of your life, they can help you strategize repayment plans. Similarly, they might remember or have heard of local grants or scholarships that you could be eligible for. Any bit helps!
You Can Ask All the Questions
Another benefit of asking a sibling—older or younger—for advice on paying off student loans is that you can ask them the questions that might be nerve-wracking to ask a stranger. Your sibling has seen you at your best and your worst, so you can be much more straightforward with them.
And because they’ve known you from childhood, they should be able to give you advice based on your own mentality and emotions. So much of smart personal finance is picking the right strategy for you, and no one knows you better than family (except you, of course).
You Can Bounce Ideas Off of Each Other
Even if you’re the older sibling, you can still rely on your younger sibling for advice. Since they know your family’s financial situation, they can still give you great tips. And they might be able to give you advice that would be hard to hear from someone else, even a parent.
For example, if you got a high-paying job after graduation and they know you’re bad at saving money, they might advise you to contribute more than the minimum payment for your student loans so you can pay your loan back faster. While this is a smart strategy for most with student loans, it might be easier to hear from a sibling.
They Are Family
Although advisors might be trained on financial matters, no one loves you or believes in you like a sibling. Ideally, they will be motivated to help you find the best solutions for student debt.
Considering Student Loan Refinancing
When thinking about student loan repayment, you may think about considering student loan refinancing. While refinancing is not for everyone, you may qualify for a lower interest rate or a shorter term.
You can talk about it with your family and figure out what’s best for you—whether it’s taking advantage of the many federal student loan repayment options or refinancing with a private lender.
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