It’s really no secret; there are tons of twenty-somethings with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. New grads become overwhelmed when it comes time to pay for the education they borrowed for years earlier. Unfortunately, post-secondary education isn’t cheap, most students (in Canada and the U.S.) graduate with over $27,000 in student loan debt. This five-figure sum is a huge burden to take on when trying to land your first job. While you can’t erase the past, you can help yourself mitigate this potential burden. Here are four simple tips that will show you how to responsibly spend your student loans and minimize the amount you take on. Who wants to take on more debt than they have to?

Step 1: Create a budget
Identifying what your monthly expenses will be gives you a good idea as to how much money you need to be bringing in each month. Include your rent, groceries, utilities, transportation costs, and other expenses that occur each and every month. If you don’t plan on working enough to cover your monthly expenses, your student loans will have to supplement your income. This isn’t a bad thing, but knowing how much you need to cover those expenses will help you minimize the amount of borrowed dollars you will need to fund your lifestyle. Creating a budget will help you do this.

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Step 2: Supplement your income with a part-time job
Getting a part time job is vital to ensuring your student loans are minimized. Whether you are picking up a couple of shifts a week at a coffee shop, or babysitting for a few hours every month, all of this supplementary income will help you in the future. Part-time income could be the difference between having $30,000 of debt when you graduate or $20,000 of debt. While working extra hours may not be the most ideal with your grueling college schedule, you’ll appreciate it down the line.

Step 3: Pay for your needs and cut the wants
Traveling to exotic locations, going out for dinner with your friends every week, and picking up your daily latte are all wants — and they are all excellent ways to waste your student loan money. Give yourself a reasonable weekly/monthly allowance and say no to those “wants” that don’t fit within your budget.

Step 4: Save a little
Save some of your student loans by putting them away in a savings account if you aren’t using them. There is nothing in the fine print of the student loan contract that says you need to spend them all. You will be much happier down the road when you have something to show for yourself when you graduate.

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While student loans can help supplement your lifestyle when you’re in school, it’s important to remember that its not free money — you will have to pay it back someday. But if you’re smart about it, you will be able to lessen your student loan debt and your future-self will thank you for it.