Student Loan Playlist: 7 Songs to Play to Get Amped Up About Paying Off Your Debt


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Have you just about had it with paying back your student loans? Tired of making your minimum monthly payments and not seeing your balance decline anywhere near fast enough? Ready to finally just be DONE paying back your student loans?

I feel you. Student loans are a drag, and it’s really easy to let yourself become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of money that you owe. But being overwhelmed and feeling powerless or depressed about your student loans isn’t going to help you pay them back any quicker. Being sad just makes it harder to motivate yourself to make progress.

If you’re ready to start crushing your student loan debt, then you’ve got to change your mindset from one of defeat and depression to one of motivation and determination. You’ve gotta get amped!

That’s why I’ve pulled together this playlist of songs that you should listen to whenever you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your student loans. When you’ve turned down your fifth invitation off the week because you’re cutting your expenses, when you spend your weekend side hustling so you can make an extra payment to drive your principal down faster, when you’re sick of seeing interest eat into your progress, let this playlist remind you why you’re doing it: For Freedom. For the satisfaction of being done.

1. Sallie Mae Back by Dee-1

Most inspirational line: “I finished paying Sallie Mae back, Mae back!”

I had to include Sallie Mae Back in my list, if for no other reason than it’s the only song I’ve ever heard that directly talks (sings?) about student loans. As a whole, the song is great. It’s a strange mix of funny and deep, accurately presenting the struggles that student loan borrowers face while also capturing the euphoria of paying off your student loans. The most poignant line, the chorus itself (“I finished paying  Sallie Mae back, Mae back!”) is something that we all aspire to. Listen to this song when you need a reminder: You’ll finish paying off your student loans one day!

2. Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift

Most inspirational line: “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time./Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time.”

Okay, I already expect to get some slack for including this song because so many people hate it. But that line above from the chorus, is so poignant. “I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” perfectly captures the sentiment of anyone who’s ever realized that they needed to get their act together to pay off a debt or otherwise clean up their finances. Changing your habits and your priorities can literally feel like rising up from the dead as a new, smarter, stronger person. No matter what mistakes you might have made in the past, you can learn from them and use that experience to have a happier tomorrow.  Plus, the total I-don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude of the song is just what you need in your life when you decide to get serious about paying down your student loans.

3. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

Most inspirational line: “I will survive.”

Look, if Gloria Gaynor was able to survive an emotionally abusive lover and grow to become the all-time Queen of Sass, then you can and will survive your battle with student loans. I know that it might not always seem that way, and that it sometimes feels like you’ll always have student loans dragging you down. But through hard work and determination, you’ll beat them.

It’s no secret that people with large amounts of student loans are more prone to suffering from depression and other mental health issues, so it bears repeating: You will survive. If you ever feel like there is no way out, or that your only option is self harm or suicide, then please, please talk to someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) any time, day or night, if you need to talk to a professional.

4. Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

Most inspirational line: “What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter.”

Kelly Clarkson singing this song is my student loan spirit animal (if that makes any sense at all). Yes, she’s singing about love, but the strength and determination that these lyrics ooze can apply to any situation, including your battle against student loans. Yeah, having student loans is awful, and at times it’s easy to feel defeated by them. But once you’ve freed yourself from their grasp, there’s little doubt that you’re going to be stronger for it. Stronger, smarter, more determined. No matter how painful the battle, we grow from it, we learn, and we keep fighting.

5. Praying by Kesha

Most inspirational line: “When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name.”

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that Kesha’s opening monologue to this song is amazing. She is talking specifically about her own experience with abuse, and the raw emotion that comes through before she even starts to sing is breathtaking. That monologue perfectly captures the feelings of hopelessness and depression felt by anyone who has ever been abused, but also directly applies to anyone who’s ever struggled financially. “Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams, those horrible dreams, that seem like they last forever?” is the single most poetic way I could ever describe living with unbearable debt (whether student loans debt or credit cards, mortgage, etc.).

But that line. That badass line during the crescendo of the song. Oh my god. “When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name.” So. Bad. Ass. The strength, confidence, and pure condescension in that line gets me every time. Let’s all learn from Kesha, pick ourselves up, and show the world just how strong we are. Student loans ain’t got nothing on us.

6. Thunder by Imagine Dragons

Most inspirational line: ” Who do you think you are, dreaming bout being a big star?”

There’s something about the primal beat in this song that gets my blood pumping. Paired with lyrics about someone rising up from nothing and showing everyone how wrong they are, what’s not to love? Honestly, this song is the perfect song to listen to whenever you’re in a situation that makes you the underdog. Just think about how amazing it’s going to be when you prove everyone wrong and show them what you’re made of. Student loans? Psht. You got this.

7. Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine

Most inspirational line: “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.”

There’s such resignation in that line. “Oh, it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back? He’s heavy? He keeps you from being able to move? That devil ain’t nothin, just shake him off.” It’s a line that really puts into perfect perspective just how in control you truly are over your own life. All of us have our devils and demons trying to hold us back through life, whether that devil is student loan debt or self doubt or anything else you can think of. Sometimes it might feel like you have no control and no way to fight back, but all you need to do is shake it off.

Ready to Fight?

Are you as amped up as I am? Ready to start making some real progress against your student loans so that you can start to enjoy life free of debt? By making a few choice moves now, you can do a lot to set yourself up for success. First choose a repayment method so that your efforts are focused. Then double down on your efforts by pairing that method with some of these strategies to pay back your loans even faster. If you’re really serious about saving as much money as possible, you should also consider refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate. LendEdu has a free rate comparison calculator that you should check out to see what rates you might qualify for—a lower rate could make all the difference in your fight against student loans.

What do you think?

What do you think of my playlist? These are the songs that I listen to when I need a bit more motivation and enthusiasm in my battle against student loans, but everyone’s different. Do you have a go-to song that you listen to to get pumped? Let us know in the comments and we might add your song to our list!


About Tim Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is the founding editor of Student Debt Warriors. A freelance writer and editor with a passion for teaching people about all things personal finance, his goal is to help parents and students tackle their student loan problems so that they can live happier, healthier lives. Tim's writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, Grow Magazine, and others. His first book of poetry, "Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer," was published in 2012 by River Otter Press.

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