There are roughly forty million of us out there that have student loan debt. Every major decision we make is weighed against the pros and cons of having so much debt to our name.
From having babies to buying houses, many people my age have delayed “life” all because of their student loans. Many fail to establish an adequate amount of savings as their student loan payments leave them with paltry leftovers each month.
Sometimes the decision to invest for our future selves are even put on the back burner. However, I can’t say I’m part of that camp because I’ve constantly thought about life during retirement.
I haven’t put off contributions to a 401k account because of my debt. I haven’t delayed kids or the house because of my debt. I’ve pretty much carried on as if that annoying debt doesn’t even exist.
Despite throwing my two middle fingers up to my loans and giving them the minimum for the last decade or so, lately I’ve gotten the itch to pay them down more quickly. I’ve also started itching to put more money into investments because, honestly, I’m not getting any younger.
Ten years have quickly passed since I walked across the stage to receive my bachelor degree and a few of my peers have made a nice bit of progress on their student loan repayment. Heck, a friend of mine is a public service employee and is getting a portion of her loans forgiven soon.
Time has slowed down for no one and as I get older, I know there are more things I could be doing with my money. So, lately I’ve been asking, “Should I invest or pay off student debt?” I’ve come to my own conclusions despite what some might agree with.
Now, I know the rational thing to do would be to get rid of my debt because of interest and all. But once you take a closer look at it, there’s an argument for investing as well.
I could quickly pay off the seven or so loans I used for my graduate degree because of their higher interest rates. Once I’ve paid those off, I can then invest into a mutual fund alongside making the minimum payment on my two larger student loans with lower interest rates.
The argument would be that any earnings from investing would be offset by the 6 percent or higher interest rates on my student loans. Therefore, it would make sense to get rid of those loans first.
Any loans with an interest rate of 3 percent or less could be paid down over time because of the potential to earn more with investments. I’ve heard both arguments; however, I’m more inclined to do what I feel would be the best emotional decision for me.
Well, personal finance is just that — personal. What feels good to one person may not feel good to the next. In order to know whether you should invest or pay off student debt you should weigh your options against any future goals you may have.
You should also carefully consider whether you have other pressing financial concerns such as an adequate emergency fund. Do you have credit card debt? If so, the interest rates on any of those would override any potential investment earnings.
You can use expert advice to guide you but ultimately your decision has to be up to you. I know which side I’m leaning more towards because I’ve considered all of my future goals and I’ve addressed all pressing financial concerns.
Before you make the rush to do something just because “they” say it should be done, ask yourself how someone else’s decision will directly affect you.
If you can’t deal with the emotional aspects of carrying your student loan debt any longer than you should — screw investing. Pay off your debt.
However, if you can’t deal with the emotional aspect of not being able to take care of your future self — take a dual approach. Pay off your debt and invest.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes down to investing, your student loans, or your money. I figure as long as you’re not out wasting your money on things you don’t need, you can’t really go wrong with a dual approach to investing and paying off your debt.
I’ll pay off my loans with the higher interest rates and see if I can’t figure out this investing thing once I’ve gotten them out of the way. Right now my student loans are costing me money and time so the quicker they can go the better I’ll be in the long-term.
Now, the question remains – should you invest or pay off all of your student debt?
Well, the choice is all yours. Just make sure it’s the right choice for you!.