The holidays are fast approaching. If you haven’t finished shopping yet, here’s the inside scoop on the best gifts for student loan borrowers.
Keep in mind that this list may look a little different than the gift guides you usually see around this time of year. If you’re shopping for someone who has five or six figures’ worth of student loan debt, though, odds are they’ll need something on this list.
And if you’re a borrower, here are some impactful ways you could treat yourself this season.
21. A nice pair of boots
When you refinance a student loan, whether it’s for the first, second or third time, you can qualify for a decent cash bonus. No rule says you have to put that money in savings or use it toward your student loan payment.
Why not use it to purchase something expensive that you’ve always wanted?
My wife used her cash back to buy a nice pair of boots when I helped her refinance her student loans for the first time. If it has been a while, check again to see if you qualify for a lower interest rate and use the cash back to get something nice for yourself.
20. Etsy jewelry
I have gotten several pieces of jewelry on Etsy for my wife. It looks good and it’s impressive.
Etsy jewelry features original designs for a one-of-a-kind gift. Compare what you find there to ads you see on television, and I bet you’d opt for an original piece on Etsy. Plus, wouldn’t you rather support small business owners than a big box store anyway?
Another thing about Etsy jewelry is that it makes a great side hustle. A lot of student loan borrowers have gigs they do on the side to make more money to pay down their debt faster. Etsy is one option, and if you have a knack for jewelry-making, crafts, or just about anything, you can find a way to sell it on Etsy.
19. Apple AirPods Pro
Giving quality headphones is like two gifts in one. They’re headphones, and they can be used to listen to the Student Loan Planner podcast.
If you have significant debt, you need a good plan. Podcasts are an excellent resource to help you navigate your student loan payoff journey.
The amount of knowledge you could gain from podcasts is massive. For example, if you’re a dentist, you don’t need an MBA. You just need to listen to several dentist-specific business podcasts to learn everything you need to know to crush it as a practice owner.
The same goes for lawyers, physicians and other professionals.
18. A distracting iPad game
Remember the last time you were on hold with your loan servicer? A distracting iPad game could have helped you pass the time.
Hold times can be lengthy. I love playing quality iPad games while waiting for someone to pick up.
Ibuprofen can come in handy after talking with your loan servicer. It will also help when your loan servicer tells you something completely inaccurate, which happens all the time.
The next time you call FedLoan, Navient, Nelnet or Great Lakes, have a bottle of ibuprofen ready.
Have you ever talked to FedLoan? If you have, you know a tall glass of whiskey or bourbon can help take the edge off. They almost always say something wrong, and it’s hard to sort out the good advice from the bad if you’re unfamiliar with student loans. Just don’t mix the liquor with the ibuprofen.
Alternatively, you could go on a “no-booze diet” and use the money you save to pay down your student loans faster.
15. A plane ticket abroad
If you’re making less than $100,000 abroad, your student loan payment can legally be $0 a month. According to the foreign earned income tax exclusion, you can exempt $100,000 of income when filing taxes outside the U.S.
It’s a wonderful gift because it’s like your student loans almost disappear.
Everyone loves cash, but don’t just hand over bills in a plain white envelope. The recipient will think you didn’t put any thought into your gift.
Instead, look for an inexpensive but creative way to gift money. You might get a pizza box and lay out a mix of $20 bills and $1 bills in the shape of a pie. Or practice your origami skills and fold the bills into butterflies, hearts, or airplanes.
13. Public library card
Although Amazon has made public libraries less popular, they’re still worth checking out. Public libraries have new and up-to-date services, including online, that are free to use if you have a library card.
In addition to books, you can check out movies and music for free. Some libraries also host free seminars and events for kids.
12. Higher interest on your savings account
I came across an interesting study that said 57% of Charles Schwab’s revenue comes from net interest margin. In other words, when a bank pays you 0.25% on your deposits, then puts it to work earning 2% or more, the bank earns quite a bit on the several trillion dollars of deposits.
You can cash in on some of that interest by moving your money to a high-yield savings account. Banks are paying pretty good rates on those accounts, and you could earn a couple of hundred bucks a year in interest payments without doing any extra work.
11. Refinance your loans
Many people don’t realize that loans can be refinanced more than once. If you refinance through one of our partners, you can earn a bonus ranging from $500 to $750.
Plus, you’ll get even more money back if you qualify for a lower interest rate. Getting a 1% lower rate on a balance of $50,000 will save you $500 in interest in one year.
Over the life of your loan, you could save thousands of dollars if you refinance. And that’s enough to buy gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.
10. Ask for a raise
A raise is a great gift for a student loan borrower. Keep in mind that your request for a raise should be backed up by data. Here’s what you do:
- Ask your boss or supervisor what a top performer in your job looks like and what expectations they have.
- Negotiate a fair salary or wage increase if you get from where you are now to where the top performers are.
- Track your progress and performance according to the expectations laid out by your boss.
Very few people ask for raises with a data-driven method, which is one reason people end up not getting paid what they’re worth. So, put in the work, ask for a raise and back it up!
9. An engagement ring
Many people freak out when they get married. It’s one of the most common reasons people end up working with us.
Typically, they’re worried about the effect marriage will have on their student loan payments. But getting married is a wonderful thing as a student loan borrower.
Marriage is a great gift because you can:
- Grow your assets
- Diversify your income
- Split your expenses
Think about a situation in which one person is a doctor and the other is a lawyer. If the economy crashed, both fields would have to crash for you to get hit hard financially. Compare that to if you’re single and one of those fields crashes.
If you’ve been putting your life on hold because of your student loan debt, think about what’s really important to you. A beautiful engagement ring doesn’t have to break the bank, and getting married while you’re figuring out loan debt together can be a lot better than being debt free with a broken heart.
8. Couples counseling
Let me explain — divorce is a much bigger financial risk than your student loans.
As the Dentaltown podcast explained:
You think having $500,000 of student loans is bad? That’s nothing when you consider your first divorce could cost you $3,000,000.
Divorce between professionals or with someone who makes a professional-level income can be much more intense than a student loan payment.
7. A roommate
A roommate is a great way to cut expenses and keep more cash in your pocket this Christmas. If you’re in a relationship, that’s one way to split the bill. Otherwise, consider house hacking.
House hacking is when you live in a house and rent out other units or rooms. This way, you have other people pay down your mortgage.
Housing costs are generally the most expensive item in a person’s budget. If you lower that cost, you could order sushi without worrying about whether it’s happy hour.
6. Buy the highest interest loan
If you’re at a loss for what to get for a student loan borrower, offer to buy one of their loans. Keep in mind that you need to be very careful when you’re getting involved with buying out a student loan, but I’m sure it would make the borrower very happy.
Note that getting involved with finances could create issues within families. You should also be aware of the tax implications if the IRS also views your purchase as a gift.
5. Inheritance money
Inheritance money can feel awkward because it can leave you feeling sad. But inheritance money is included on this list because I get asked about it a few times every month. If you come into a significant amount of money after a loved one passes, should you put it toward your loans?
Before you ask someone that question, make sure you’re talking to someone who will give you good advice. Ask your financial advisor how they’re getting paid. Chances are good they won’t give advice in your best interest if they earn a commission from selling you particular stocks or insurance products.
4. Drive a paid-off car
Very few things in life are as relaxing as not having a car payment. If you’re a student loan borrower with car debt, make some sacrifices to pay it off as fast as possible.
Once that debt is gone, you’ll have money available for other things. You might save more for retirement, put money toward the loan forgiveness tax bomb, or use it to pay off other loans.
3. A prefilled employer certification form (ECF)
An ECF that’s already filled out is a wonderful gift to give a student loan borrower. This form is required every year and would make an excellent present this (and every) Christmas.
If the borrower is going for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, ask the student loan borrower where they work and have the employer sign the form.
Student loan debt makes you afraid. When you’re afraid, you don’t make big changes. And without big changes, you can’t take your life to the next level.
The world needs more courage. If you had courage, you could start a business, take a risk or change jobs. For instance, taking a risk to open your own practice as a medical professional can better your financial life.
So, this year, give the gift of courage. Do something to encourage the student loan borrowers in your life. Even if it’s a simple pep talk.
1. A plan to take on student loans
Don’t laugh. I’ve had a couple of people buy student loan plans to give as gifts. It’s also the most practical thing ever.
People don’t understand how much they need it, but having a plan for tax strategies and debt payoff can greatly reduce stress.
What will you get the student loan borrower on your list?
Hopefully, these gift ideas inspire you to find the perfect present for the student loan borrower in your life — even if that’s you. While some of these options are more tongue-in-cheek, others are quite practical and would be well-received at Christmas.
Student loan debt can be a huge burden. Giving the gift of saving money, building better financial habits and helping borrowers pay off their loans can have a dramatic, lasting effect beyond this holiday season.