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I Can Barely Make Ends Meet With My Student Loans and Debt

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

I have two private student loans serviced by Navient ($15,000 and $16,000). I pay $262/month, which is almost interest only.

I also have several credit cards totaling $12,900, and a personal loan through Avant for $7,800. I make minimum payments on the credit cards and a $288 payment on the Avant loan, which has a crazy 34.99% interest rate.

I own my home and have two old vehicles that are both paid off. My living expenses total about $600/month including all utilities. I have no savings.

I make $1,640 per month after taxes at a government job. It’s not a lot, but I love my job and enjoy helping people. Also, because of my job’s location, it does help keep some of my living expenses down. I will be getting a $2 raise at the end of the year, providing an extra $300/month.

By the time all bills are paid, I’m just about breaking even each month.

How do I begin to pay off this debt? Are there any options aside from finding a higher paying job?



Dear Jim,

I suspect finances have been tight for a while. The Avant loan looks to be a personal loan and frankly the interest rate isn’t horrible for such a loan. I would guess that some or all of the credit card debt was just accumulated by helping to make ends meet as well.

One thing that is certain is that without something changing then all it will take is one unexpected event to throw your entire financial life in the disposal. You’ve got nowhere to turn for the next surprise expense.

I also don’t want you to leave a job you love. And you don’t necessarily have to.

Financial problems are created by expenses that are too high, income that is too low, or a combination of the both.

The easiest option to consider might be to think about some crappy second job to help soften the financial strain.

Another option would be to take a look at what your loans were used for. Not all Naviant loans are created equal, so if you went to a school that was not Title IV complaint and eligible for federal student loans, that might open you up to some options. Or maybe you used the loans for something else other than school. Again, that might give you some options. You can read this for more information on those issues.

The next option might be to enroll your unsecured debt in a credit counseling program. If you did, the credit card payments would probably be about $260 and that does not save you a lot. And I’m not sure Avant even works with any credit counseling agencies to reduce payments.

The priority is to get you back to a point where you can save money each month and build that emergency fund. So how do we do that?

One option would be to consider a consumer bankruptcy. That would knock out the credit card and Avant loan but you’d need to discuss your specific situation with a bankruptcy attorney who is licensed in your state to better understand any risk to your old vehicles or equity in your home.

Most bankruptcy attorneys will meet with you for free so there is no harm or risk to you to find a local bankruptcy attorney you like and go talk to them about your specific situation.

So while I’ve give you a few options based on some assumed positions, one thing I know absolutely is now is the time to do something if you can’t wait for your raise to appear in your check.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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