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Paying Off Debt Is Never “Easy”

One thing that I absolutely HATE is when someone tells me that paying off debt is easy if you’re making a good salary. Maybe I take it too personally, but it feels like a knock on my accomplishment. After all, I paid off $87,000 worth of student loans, but I also had a good salary that allowed me to do it. Was it easier to do than if I had been making less? Of course. But it definitely wasn’t easy.

A recent headline I saw reminded me that a lot of people think paying off debt is just a walk in the park so long as you make a high enough income. Take a look:

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When Leaving Big Law, The Financial Struggle Shouldn’t Be Real

One of the maddening things about working in big law was seeing so many of my colleagues squandering the golden opportunity that they had in front of them. There aren’t a ton of situations in which a 25-year old can make six-figures a year right out of school with basically no prior work experience. For the vast majority of new big law associates, that first-year salary might be more money than they’ve made in all of their other previous working years combined.

That’s why it always bothered me when I saw my colleagues renting expensive, luxury apartments and talking about the hip, new, foodie restaurant they hit up over the weekend. It wasn’t the money they spent that bugged me the most. What really bugged me was how normal a lot of them treated their big law salary. To me, earning six figures a year at 26-years old was a huge deal! I’d never even made more than $20,000 in a year. The way I saw it, this money was a blessing. And it wasn’t meant to be squandered.

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Live Like A Student: Embrace Non-Traditional Ways Of Living

If you had to ask me what the single most important thing you can do for yourself financially when you finish school, my answer would always be to live like a student. It seems so obvious, and yet, despite being so obvious, very few people actually follow this advice.

I live in a college neighborhood, so I see a lot of college kids when I’m out and about. Sometimes, I like to think about how weird their living situations are compared to your typical middle-class American. Most of these college kids live in rundown houses, usually packing four or more people into a house. It’s not uncommon for people to share rooms or live in tiny bedrooms no bigger than a closet. When I’m out doing deliveries, I’ll sometimes make a delivery to a dorm and am reminded that, for at least a year, most college kids live and sleep in a tiny dorm room with a person they’ve never met before!

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Pay Off Your Student Loans Now – It Doesn’t Get Any Easier Later

I recently realized that I’m turning 30 in a few weeks. As I was reflecting on entering my 30s and the things I’ve achieved, one thing occurred to me – I must be in the minority of recent lawyers that will be entering their 30s with absolutely no student loan debt remaining.

This is sort of interesting when you think about it. Student loans have become so normalized in our society that we just expect everyone to have them now. This is especially true for most high income professions that require many years of post-college schooling. When you include all the time spent accruing debt in grad school, it’s not uncommon for someone to keep their debt around for a decade or more. A lawyer graduating at age 25 could easily still have their student loan debt kicking around until they’re 35 or older. I know of dentists that will be paying their student loans well into their 50s!

A common refrain is that you’ll pay more on your student loans sometime in the future…

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Why I Prefer To Pay Off Debt Aggressively

Anyone with debt and a decent cash flow will eventually find themselves with a choice. What should be done with all of that excess money? Assuming your goal isn’t to spend it all on buying things, you’re basically left with two choices. Pay off your debt aggressively. Or invest the surplus.

The pure mathematical answer is to play the interest rate arbitrage game. Excess money should go into assets that provide a rate of return higher than whatever interest rate your debt is at. It’s a pretty simple calculation from that vantage point…

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