People make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, but odds are slim that they’ll pan out. Only 8% of people report accomplishing these goals, according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton.
You can buck that trend by creating resolutions that are both specific and attainable.
“The clients that have the most success are the ones who don’t ignore the problem. They come up with an aggressive, but doable, plan,” says Mark Struthers, a Minnesota-based certified financial planner.
Consider these three attainable student loan resolutions for 2017.
1. Calculate your payoff date
Figuring out the exact month and year when you’ll be free of your student loan debt is a strong motivator to keep paying it off. The typical 10-year loan term can feel pretty abstract, but knowing you’ll be debt-free in, say, March 2027, might inspire you to reach that goal even more quickly.
Once you know the exact month and year you’ll finish paying off your loans, create a loan paydown plan. You might choose to pay more than the minimum each month to get out of debt faster.
2. Switch up your debt management strategy
Make 2017 the year you stop staring down your student loan balance at the exclusion of other financial goals.
To save the most money, prioritize your debts by interest rate. Credit cards and personal loans, for example, usually carry higher rates than student loans, so they cost more long term. It might be tempting to throw any extra cash at your student loans, but it might not make the most financial sense. And your financial plan needs to look beyond debt if you want to successfully manage your money.
“None of your finances should be looked at in a vacuum,” says Scott Hanson, a Sacramento-based certified financial planner.
3. Make your loans fit your budget
Having trouble affording your loans? Want to free up money for long-term savings? Lowering your payments can help keep your student debt from overwhelming all else.
Look into income-driven repayment plans. If you qualify, your payments will be capped at a percentage of your income and your loan term will be extended to 20 to 25 years; you’ll be forgiven any leftover balance after that time and it will be taxed as income. Deferment and forbearance can both provide a temporary reprieve from private loan payments.
If you can afford your payments but want to save money on your loans, look into student loan refinancing. If you qualify, you’ll trade your existing loan for a new one with different terms, such as a lower interest rate and payment amount.
Devon Delfino is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.