Here’s what millions of us REALLY want — and how to ask for it.
You’re about to get schooled.
The most popular gifts to give over the holidays are clothing, gift cards and electronics, according to data from Deloitte.
But if you’re planning on gifting items like those, prepare yourself: They may be met with disappointment. That’s because many of the 40 million Americans who are still paying off their student loans want something very different for the holidays.
About seven in 10 student loan borrowers say they’d rather get an equally-valued student loan payment instead of a traditional gift this holiday season, according to a recent survey of 1,000 student loan borrowers from StudentLoans.net. What’s more, if they receive money as a gift this holiday season, nearly six in 10 (59%) plan to put the money towards their student loans anyway.
Ask someone who’s had their student loans paid off by a family member, friend or romantic partner, and you’ll be even more convinced that a student loan payment just may be the perfect present. A couple years back, Foster City, CA-resident Katie Austin, 31, a fin-tech professional, was struggling to repay her loans. “I was buckling down, cutting out extras, I’d refinanced and was paying $1600 a month to try to pay them off,” she says. “And I was still looking for more ways to save to pay them off faster.”
The guy she’d been dating for about seven months at the time saw the sacrifices Austin had been making to tackle the debt — and offered to repay the remaining $22,000. “He came to me and said very seriously, ‘what if I did it [repaid your loans]?’ It would save you a lot of money on interest and that is good for our future together, we could do more fun things together,’” she tells Moneyish. “It was insane, it was so, so great,” she says, adding that it was one of the best gifts she’s ever gotten.
“Helping pay off my loans was a gesture that showed selflessness, trust, and support of me and my goals in a way I had never experienced before. So, I know it’s sappy, but the greatest part of the gift was that it solidified our relationship,” she says. Of course, Austin got a huge financial gift from her partner, but even those who receive small loan payments will likely be grateful, as the student loan survey revealed.
No doubt, many of you reading this with student loans are probably wondering one thing: How can you get people to repay your student loans for you this holiday season?
First, it’s okay to talk about this desire with someone close to you like “family such as parents or other close members of the family such as grandparents, aunts/uncles, elderly cousins,” says Pamela Eyring, president of The Protocol School of Washington. If they ask your holiday gift wish, “tell them, ‘What I really want is a little help with my student loan debt!’ That opens the conversation because most people don’t know you have student loans, or they don’t know how much of a burden the student loans are,” says relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, who runs a relationship advice forum. Add that any amount would be helpful towards these loans, so they realize that even small gifts are appreciated.
But many people won’t ask outright what you want for the holidays, and etiquette expert Constance Hoffman, founder of Social & Business Graces notes that it’s not often polite to “outright ask/demand cash as a gift.” If that’s the case, you can bring up “your desire to get out from under [student loan] debt” and add that “you really don’t need anything” for the holidays, says Hoffman. As for how much to reveal about your student loan situation and the desire to get helping with repayment? “The closer you are to the person, the more direct you can be,” concludes Hoffman.
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