Would you save more for retirement or paying off student debt? Student loan balances have a significant impact on people of all ages, especially younger workers and those who have returned to school or progressed in the past decade.
About 70 percent of recent college graduates from four-year colleges had student loan debt, and the average graduate of the Class of 2016 ended up with $ 37,172.
Focusing on long-term goals such as retirement may seem like a distant priority. But if you wait a long time to start saving for retirement, you are likely to face greater challenges in your financial life that have been overshadowed by inspired student loans.
Here are some of the financial planning steps in the list of priorities that most often need to be completed before attacking student loans with additional payments.
Create a list of your most important financial life goals
There is no doubt that student loan debt creates a significant burden on many household budgets. These loans should not prevent the achievement of important life goals. While your budget or personal expenses plan may prove solid as you make these necessary payments, it is important that you have a written financial plan of action. Having a written plan can help provide guidance when trying to prioritize how to spend your time and money.
By taking the time to put your goals into writing and identifying the steps needed to achieve those goals, you can increase the likelihood that you will eventually reach those goals. A poll found that less than 40 percent of investors actually had a written plan.
Having a written financial plan is helpful no matter what your financial situation is at the time.
Your plan does not have to be too complicated and a simpler approach is often more effective. For example, One Page Financial Plan: A Simple Plan to Be Smart about Money Carl Richards emphasizes how you can accomplish remarkable things in your financial life with a basic plan. Unfortunately, many people see $ 1.3 trillion in total student loan debt in this country as an impossible mountain to climb.
On a personal level, you can assume that your student loan debt means that you will never be able to buy a home or gain financial independence. Instead of focusing solely on student loans, create a simple one-page financial plan to help you find the best way to pay for student loans in other areas of your financial life.
Create a Personal Cost Plan
It is important to keep track of your expenses. However, it is more important to go beyond tracking what has already happened in the past and creating a spending plan that tells your money where to go in advance. Despite the importance of the budget, only one in three Americans actually monitors budget revenues and expenses on a regular basis. Student loan repayments are typically 10 to 15 percent of discretionary income.
Your actual payment amount will depend on the repayment plan you choose.
The process of choosing the right repayment plan goes beyond focusing on current minimum payments. You also need to estimate how long it will take to clear your student loan debt and how the total interest expense over the life of your loan. Having a spending plan will pay off your budget and help you identify ways to save more for retirement and pay extra for debt.
You can learn more about how to choose the right federal student loan repayment plan at Studentaid.ed.gov.
Maintain a Starter Emergency Fund
A starter protection fund typically ranges from $ 1000 to $ 2000 in an account separate from your regular check. This fund is necessary to avoid expensive credit card debt or personal credit if an unexpected medical, auto or home expense occurs.
Pay off high-interest debt
When it comes to repaying loans and other debt obligations, it is important to understand that some types of debt are more problematic than others. Lower interest student loans or mortgage debt are generally more acceptable and lower priority since interest can be deducted from taxes.
These payments should continue to fall below 25% of your total monthly income. For other more problematic types of debt (such as credit cards) with interest rates greater than 6 percent, eliminating the debt interest rate is the best way to prioritize them.
Determine Savings Fund Savings
Most Americans do not have enough savings to cover the cost of 1 month. However, it is generally recommended that you have enough savings to cover at least three to six months of basic living expenses. The best way to achieve this is to automatically transfer money directly from your paycheck to a separate savings account until you reach the savings goal.