Living the American Dream often involves going to college and taking out student loans. Today's post is from my friend Cassie, who is sharing her experience on this topic. Enjoy!
We all know the image: child grows up, heads to college, and graduates. They pick a graduate program and strive to be their best. They work as hard as they can until they receive that crisp, piece of paper in the mail. They have accomplished their goals and there it is: the finish line. They apply to jobs and score their dream job – it starts the minute summer ends.
Now, as someone who has attempted to go through with this so-called-American-dream, I call bologna! Sure, college is a great experience; it’s important in teaching maturity, independence, and structure as well as important functions for specific job positions.
I mean, you can’t really fulfill your dream of being a teacher if you don’t learn about how, right? And you most certainly can’t become a doctor until you learn medical practices (I sure hope *that* never changes). So, on the one hand, going to school can open many doors.
On the other hand, coming out of the gate with a degree in one hand and a pile of debt in the other can be rather limiting – an understatement With the country’s student debt reaching new heights, it is far from limiting. Student debt is debilitating.
Affording the Interest is Impossible = No House For Us
When I got married this past fall, my wife and I calculated all of our debt – a whopping total of almost $200,000. Can you even imagine what that gains in interest every day? I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s well over the minimum payment. This means that even if we pay the minimum payment on our debt for the next 25 years, not only will we be out over $240,000, but we’ll still be in the exact same place we are right now.
I hear a lot of people talk about how there is, supposedly, ‘good’ debt and ‘bad’ debt, student loan debt and mortgages being the former. However, when it comes to a banker’s eyes, all debt is equal. Which means that our student loan debt becomes a factor in securing a mortgage.
Even with a significant down payment, our debt-to-income ratio is so high that we are unable to purchase a house.
Less Income = Less Room to Grow
So, our only choice is to start paying extra on our loans, which means less money coming in and more money going out. At a minimum, our loans come out to ~$1,000 a month and our income is ~$3,200 a month – which isn’t too bad, I’ll be honest.
However, even if we contribute $2,000 a month to our debt, it will take us 10 years to pay off our debt and at that rate. With only $1,200 to our name each month and bills to pay, it’s hard to imagine bringing new life into the world.
We would love to have a large family and know that risks become more prevalent after a woman turns thirty-years-old. Even so, our debt makes it next to impossible for us to start a family (responsibly).
High Debt Payments = No Retirement Funds
It goes without saying that we are unable to start saving due to our high debt payments. Sadly, we are also unable to contribute large amounts to retirement. There’s really no choice though; our debt has forced us into a situation in which we can’t escape.
Both of our employers contribute a small percentage into our retirement accounts at the moment, which is fantastic. However, without a contribution from us as well, we know that we are throwing money out the window. Talk to any retirement specialist and they will tell you: saving money when you are young is key to a happy retirement.
We can try to catch up in ten years, but the compound interest works so fast that it is next to impossible. Unfortunately, this is just another way in which debt is holding us back.
How We are Fighting Back Against Our Debt
Now, I know that I made the conscious decision to take on debt when I went to school and I am certainly not asking for any hand-outs. Having student loan debt is truly a difficult thing to overcome, but it is possible. My wife and I have been putting an unbelievable amount of money toward our debt this year and we don’t plan to stop until our student loan debt has been crushed.
We will achieve our goals and you can too. Create a budget, stick to it, live frugally, spend less, earn more, and keep working toward your goals because five years from now, you’ll be grateful you started today.
Don’t let debt continue to hold you back; make the choice to live a better life.
Cassie Jahn is the author of a DIY blog devoted to living life to the fullest on a frugal budget. DIY Jahn began to help Cassie to stick to her plan to aggressively pay off her student loans, in hopes to inspire others to do the same. Find tips on saving money, paying off debt, earning money online, yummy recipes, and DIY projects like this one at: www.diyjahn.com. You can also find us on social media – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram