How I Saved Enough to Pay Off $575k of Student Debt in Under 7 Years

Finally! It has been a little over six years and we now have enough money to pay off my $575,000 in student debt! Although we haven’t paid it off because of the student aid deferment since the pandemic, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t know how it happened, or when really. Which goes to show that little wins add up to big gains. It’s the everyday decisions you make that, in the end, pay out. Success isn’t so much the achievement. The achievement is the public recognition of that success. But success is made long before that achievement is earned. Every time you choose to take a step towards your vision, that is success right there. The crazy part is, we are considering not paying it off! But before I get into why, let’s look at the how.

How We Earned Enough $ to Pay Off $575,000 in Student Debt in Under 7 Years

I will start off by saying, I have never worked full-time in any one job. EVER. And when the pandemic hit, I actually quit my job with the thought of taking a break from dentistry. Alas, I soon found myself back in the office covering for a colleague 2-3 days a week. After her return, I ended up staying on part-time and have been part-time since.

All of this to say, we did not have to bend over backwards slaving away in the work force in order to earn this. Paying off debt doesn’t require deprivation. I didn’t accept a corporate job that might have given me benefits but would have wrecked my soul. I didn’t work over-time sacrificing family time. I lived my life exactly how I wanted to, worked the hours that felt comfortable to me, and prioritized my passions and personal life.

So how did I earn enough?

First, I made my vision and I always kept it in the forefront of everything I did. Second, we lived within our means. We were frugal, but not in the depriving sense of the word. We made good decisions, spending our hard-earned dollars on only the things that brought us joy. Third, we were valuists. We bought things based off of value, not price. I turned passions that I valued into money-making side-hustles. And fourth, we were true to ourselves. We did not compete with the Joneses, but rather, competed with ourselves. We spent energy trying to become better versions of us, rather than trying to one-up our neighbors and friends.

The main point is this: We created a plan to hit our goal and we stuck to it. It’s as simple as that. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had paid down my student debt to $425k. Today, it is at $400k and we have the money to pay it all off!

Where Did We Hold Our Assets?

Our assets are diversified and in multiple accounts. I never planned for it to be this way. When the pandemic hit, we didn’t really know what to do with left-over dollars that we saved. We wanted to be conservative, so we held most of it in cash in a High Yield Savings Account with Marcus. Currently, it is earning 4.65% in return. If you sign up with my referral link, your savings could earn up to 5.15% APY, which is 1% higher than the current Marcus rate. Over the past few years, we have saved $260k in a HYSA. By keeping our dollars in a HYSA, we are earning over $1,000 in free money every month!

We also have equity in our home. We started out by buying the best house we could find in the worst neighborhood in 2018. We had a roommate. Our down-payment was $25k. We sold that home and rolled the equity into buying a more expensive property in 2021. Currently, we have $150k in equity. Real estate has done well the last three years, and continues to do well. We listed our home on the market last Friday, on my 34th birthday.

Adding those two assets together, we are already at $400k! In addition to that, however, we have about $30k in cryptocurrency and $30k in stocks. We actually lost money by investing in stocks and crypto, but as long as we hold and don’t sell, we won’t realize those losses just yet. On top of this, we have $6k in an HSA account and $250k combined in our retirement accounts.

Therefore, if we rent a place to live or if we sold our investments, we would be free of student debt. So why are we not doing that just yet?

Why Have We Not Paid off the Debt Yet?

The politics around student debt have been shaky these past few years. Talk of student loan forgiveness during this prolonged deferment has kept everybody at the edge of their seats. Continued extensions of the 0% interest rate had us rolling our eyes. I thought it would be silly to pay the debt off while we were being charged 0% interest anyway. It was better to invest that money and realize the growth potential of those dollars. We benefited greatly from not refinancing out of the student loan repayment program that we are in (REPAYE). And now that student loan repayments are set to resume in September (????), I am not sure we will pay off the debt right away. Why??

As you may know, our first born son, Casey, was born in April. We decided to stray a bit from our frugal lifestyle in order to give him the best life possible. We want to roll the equity we’ve gained thus far to provide him a big home – one wherein he could have his own room. Our tiny home won’t allow for that. At the same time, real estate has been good to us. My husband, especially, likes being invested in it. And selling our current home in order to pay off debt without a foot in the real-estate game isn’t an idea we like.

What the deferment has taught me these past three years is that staying enrolled in the government’s loan repayment program afforded us more freedom than paying off the debt would have. Call it luck or chance, but I enjoyed that freedom and I think we could benefit from that one last time before the student debt repayment resumes. Which is why we are in the process of buying a $1M+ dream home in our beloved community before the first payment is due in October.

I Changed My Mind.

I changed my mind about what I thought it meant to give the world to Casey. I originally thought it meant choosing a smaller house in order to work less, so that I can be around him more. I originally planned to work 2-3 days total. During my maternity leave, while we were home every day, I realized that we had a lot of family members who could love and care for him as well as we can. In some ways, they can do it even better.

Meanwhile, we struggled to maneuver our tiny space. We were drowning in stuff he needed. We limited the toys that could help him thrive. It also became clear that our small space couldn’t house the people who came over because they wanted to love him and care for him. So I changed my mind.

I’m going to work four days a week in order to provide him and our extended family a bigger space. A place wherein we can all grow, thrive, and share memories in comfort. This provides opportunity for Mike and I to grow our careers, for me to regain a bit of my previous self, and for our family to spend quality time taking care of our son. I am trading my timeline of paying off student debt in under 7 years for something that I prioritize more: family.

For a moment, I considered the alternative. I quickly realized that if I chose to pay off the debt, it would be for self-fulfilling and vain reasons. Mainly, to show the world that I could. But in reality, I’ve proven it to myself, and that’s all that mattered. It will be repaid eventually, but not at the cost of what this journey was all about – to live the life we dream of without money dictating how we live it.

The New Plan

  • Roll $150k from equity plus $75k from HYSA to cover our 20% down payment and closing costs.
  • Keep the remaining $175k in HYSA for my student loans.
  • Leave crypto and stocks where they are so as not to realize losses.
  • Continue contributing to 401k and retirement accounts.
  • When loans resume, start over and aggressively pay off debt.

Dear College Kid, The Best Time to Face Student Debt is Now

Dear College Student,

Welcome to Fall Semester! For many of you, this will be the start of a long, educational journey. It is also the first day for you to take out student loans. EEK! Now I don’t want to freak you out on your first day, but I do want to say, “Don’t be like me.” Don’t look away and pretend like loans don’t exist. Please don’t assume it’ll all work itself out. The loans won’t just disappear at some point. One day, you’ll wake up and face them, and that day may as well be today. If you approach them head on at the start, you will be better financially prepared at graduation. You will be more mentally strong, more aligned with your values, and proud of your actions during college. Because the best time to face student debt is Now.

I am not saying action is required. It could very well be you choose a student loan forgiveness program to deal with the loans. I am 100% okay with that as much as I am 100% okay with paying them back aggressively. All I am asking is for you to look at them.

Make a plan.

Figure out who you are as a person. This podcast on money tendencies based on your Enneagram personality type was FIRE. I recommend it as it describes how money relates to you based on personality. Then figure out what you want in life, financially speaking. Is it money? A comfortable lifestyle? A grandiose house? It’s all dandy, as long as you are honest with yourself and know the truth.

If just the thought of student loans overwhelm you, I recommend you get help. I spent my first paycheck after graduation on a professional who specialized in student loans for dentists. Why? Because I was just as overwhelmed as some of you.

I want to introduce you to Andrew Paulson of Student Loan Advice! He charges $599 for new clients, which includes 12 months of email correspondence after the consultation. 12 months is plenty of time to situate yourself, get you on your feet, give you some options, as well as have the time to ask your questions.

Today I rounded up a few resources from my blog space to help you start thinking. My blog is free to all. So please share it with your fellow classmates. The more people have access to free resources, the more we can help others and turn this student loan crisis around.

Blog Posts for College Students with Student Debt

Dear College Kid: Pursue Learning Over Your Passion

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

Dear College Kid,

Sometimes, pursuing your passion is bad advice. Not because you shouldn’t pursue them, but because it may be too soon to start. When you’re young, you won’t a clear sense of your passions just yet. Perhaps you have a good idea, but there are nuances that you can only realize from experience. Instead, you should pursue learning.

For example, I entered a field of dentistry that I told people was my passion. Turns out, it wasn’t quite honed in enough to what gives me joy. You see, I love taking care of people, working with my hands and interacting with patients. But I don’t love the stresses of dentistry. I don’t love seeing people in pain. I don’t enjoy feeling helpless when I can’t do anything to fix a situation. It feels awful to give my patients a quote for a treatment they can’t afford. It pains my perfectionist self to do sub-ideal work, but sometimes I have to because of financial constraints or time constraints on the patient’s end. As a people-pleaser, it hurts to have patient’s introduce themselves and then tell me they hate the dentist’s office. They scurry out of the dental chair and as much as I understand it, it doesn’t feel great.

Now, I see that my passions of taking care of people, working with my hands, and socializing would have been better in the hospitality field. Professions like baking and coffee are more aligned with my soft self. Creative spaces such as wedding venues, or crafts such as pottery would have been better suited to me. The painful parts of dentistry is an emotional and mental toll and it makes my job stressful. I’ve learned to create a dental space where I reduce the negative parts, but I can’t get rid of it altogether. That’s why I only work half of the week as a dentist. Because I only like half the aspects of the profession.

Here is advice I wish I received when I was in my 20’s. Instead of pursuing your passions, pursue learning, personal discipline and growth. Focus on improving yourself. That’s what I did in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I decluttered everything in my life first because I realized outside influences could have shaped what I thought I wanted. I read many self-improvement books (or books in general). You can view my reading list on GoodReads here. I built stellar habits and really stuck to them. For example, I write, read, and exercise every day. I reflected each night through gratitude journaling. I wrote down how to improve the next day, looked back on my struggles, and asked ‘Why?’ A LOT.

On top of that, I sought out connections with people across the planet. I traveled to 10 countries and 10 states. I talked to different people through my blog. It was a gift to share my story and listen to others. I spread myself across different professions.

For example, I took ceramics classes, did yoga, boxing, swimming, pilates, and weight-lifting, volunteered to help at a bakery and eventually opened my own, started dog-sitting, volunteered at a national barista championship, started helping with wholesale and learned about sales and accounting, and of course, I studied blogs. I learned about email marketing, SEO, and how to write courses. In all of these endeavors, I talked to people. I also probe my patients’ brains. Not only do I ask what they do for a living, but also how they like it or don’t like it, and how it’s applicable to dentistry. I make an effort to make one connection between each person that I meet and myself.

Let me tell you that it’s okay to support someone else’s dream for a while. Know that while you are doing so, you are building yourself. The relationships and knowledge that you earn is valuable too. It isn’t all about you. (Actually, making life about others is good advice in general. I would jot that one down.)

And honestly, I have seen time and time again, young people pursuing their passions too soon and burning out. I see them failing at their endeavor and entirely giving up. I see them get lost, because their path isn’t super clear. They aren’t intentional enough, and then they blame the rest of the world for their failures. But it takes work and time.

I promise you, one day, you’ll wake up, and there will be a very strong whispering in your ear saying, “This is it. This is your passion.”

Have patience with yourself until then.

The Ever-Growing List of Things I’ve Done to Get Out of Student Debt

I graduated from dental school at 26 years old with $575,000 of student debt. That fact alone was mind-blowing enough to land me a podcast interview on Choose FI back in 2018. I then became the first interview with Travis Hornsby on Student Loan Planner Podcast. Since then, I have partnered with Student Loan Planner and Student Loan Advice to help young grads tackle their debt. Because the shocking reality is that big debt exists for almost every new-grad out there. Which is why this blog was originally born. I wanted to share my path towards financial freedom in the hopes of helping others maneuver past their student loans. I really hope it has helped thus far. Today, I decided to write a round-up post on everything I have done to get out of student debt. I’m sorry it has taken this long.

But before we get to it, you might be interested in The Ever-Growing List of Ways to Earn Extra Income, The Ever Growing List of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality, and The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Given Up in the Name of Creating Less Waste. You may also want to read my interviews with other bloggers. The UnOrthoDoc shares how I am paying back my student debt in 7 years. I talk about the effects of our heritage on personal finance in an interview for the series Blood Debts. And Making Sense of Cents shared how I used side-hustles to catapult debt repayment.

The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Done to Get Out of Student Debt

  • I worked three jobs during under-grad to support myself financially and to take as little debt as possible. This work ethic is what got me to start side-hustling my way to financial freedom. Check out these posts for ideas: 15 Early Morning Jobs To Jump-Start Your Day and 3 Early Morning Jobs I’ve Done to Earn Extra Money.
  • I chose a college that I could commute to for Undergrad. Even though I got into more prestigious schools, staying local was an intentional choice. I lived at home with my parents in order to save money on rent and food.
  • I finished Undergrad in 3 years. I was able to do this by taking more than 10 AP classes in high-school. These credited as college credits. My college classmates suggested I stay the fourth year to ‘get the full college experience’. I chose to graduate in three years so I could save on tuition and work full-time in my ‘fourth year’.
  • I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband and two guy friends in order to save on rent during dental school. I lived near campus the first two years and was paying $1200 per month in rent. I asked to live with the boys in a city 30 minutes away to save money. My rent went down to $375 per month. After calculating in the gas, I ended up saving $600 per month the last two years of dental school. This equated to over $14,000!
  • I hired a financial planner who ended up saving my life. I spent my first paycheck to pay for his services. He listened to my needs and wants, and made a plan that worked for my goals. I owe all of my financial success to him. I always recommend interviewing a few options before choosing the planner that’s right for you. A few options are Travis Hornsby’s Team from the Student Loan Planner or Andrew Paulson’s team from Student Loan Advice backed by White Coat Investor.
  • We mastered our budget. I think budgeting is the most important life skill for financial well-being. It doesn’t matter how much you make, if you don’t know how to control spending. That’s why I wrote a Free Course on Mastering a Budget. We use You Need a Budget (YNAB) for our budgeting tool. It is my absolute favorite. I call YNAB our secret weapon. I recommend people create a budgeting tool that works for their needs. You can always try YNAB for free for 34 days.
  • I paid off all credit card debt within six months of graduating from dental school. If you have trouble paying off your credit card debts, you can always try The Credit Pros. They will help identify the most damaging and most helpful credit items, as well as provide advice and educational tools.
  • My husband and I got a roommate for the first five years of our marriage. Getting a roommate is the best way to save money on rent. In California, housing expenses are very high. By getting a roommate, we were able to save money to buy a home. Learn more about co-housing here.
  • We bought a home which gained equity. We then sold the home in 2021 to buy a better home. We took the equity and saved it for loan repayment. Find out How We Made Our Home Cash Flow Positive and How Home Ownership Sped Up My $575,000 Student Loan Repayment.
  • We travel-hack in order to see the world. One of our top life priorities is to travel. We spent the first five years of our marriage traveling to 10 countries and over 10 states. We did that without paying for air-fare. Learn how to TRAVEL FOR FREE in this post.
  • I worked midnight shifts as an early morning baker. It eventually led me to open my own bakery. When that shut-down in 2020, I became the wholesale director of the previous bakery. I had no experience as a baker, shop owner, or salesperson. But I ended up doing those things simply because I asked to learn.
  • I opened a dog-sitting business. I now earn over $1.5k a month taking care of other people’s pets. If you want to set up a dog-business, sign up below to receive my guide in your inbox. It walks you through the steps I took in order to set up my business and thrive within 6 months!
  • We placed all of our savings in a High Yield Savings Account with Marcus. A HYSA gives a higher interest rate than a savings account at a bank. When the pandemic caused a pause in student loan repayment, we held on to our money ‘in case of emergencies’ and stored it in a HYSA. It has grown with interest while the student loans are at 0% interest. It really catapulted our loan repayment journey forward! Sign up with my referral link to receive an additional 1.0% APY bump on the current listed APY for the first three months.
  • We invested money in I Bonds in order to beat inflation. On top of putting our savings in Marcus, we recently invested the maximum amount possible in I Bonds. Due to high inflation rates, I Bonds are currently at 9.6% APY until October 2022. This rate of return is unbeatable especially at a time when stocks are down. I really recommend I Bonds as a hedge against inflation. Learn more about it in this free email course.

  • I decluttered all my stuff and embraced minimalism in order to reduce spending. Here is a list of 100 things to declutter if you want to get started!
  • I try my best to resist the attention economy. I try to avoid a consumerist lifestyle. Instead, I engage in free activities that bring me joy and vitality.
  • I started this blog! I learned a lot about blogging and how to turn my writing hobby into a side-hustle. It all started with taking the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I learned how to make passive income through my writing. I really love this course and have taken it over and over again. It’s a one time fee for life-time access. It is the most life-changing course I have ever taken and definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to start a blog.
  • I’ve done everything on this list to save as much money as possible. All the money I saved, I put towards my student loans!
  • I’ve done everything on this list to make money. Saving only gets one so far, so making money is also key.
  • I invest in personal growth and learning. I read at least two books a month. There is variety in the topics I choose. I never assume I know everything about a topic. Plus I have embraced fiction as a way to learn more about the self. You can check out the recent books I have read on GoodReads.

Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

Dear College Kid: Stay Frugal As Long As Possible

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

I remember what it was like to live as a college student. Those who paid their way without a free ride to college would agree: the finance part of it was brutal. Rationing out food, opting to buy the cheapest groceries, and looking for ways to save on rent was part of my college experience. It’s like living paycheck-to-paycheck. You may not realize it now, but much of college is about learning to flex your frugal muscles. While that may sound horrific, I think there is a benefit to learning this skill. In fact, I would even go so far as to say, stay frugal as long as possible, even after graduation.

There are many ways in which my lifestyle today looks similar to my college days. Erase drinking cheap booze, the bad habits of staying up at night and eating cheap food and the books. But, the way I spend my days and money now are quite similar to how I did then. Although some people will think that’s sad, I don’t agree. Why? Because I’m in it for the long-haul. And like most long-term endeavors, it pays to bootstrap at the beginning. Spend less, pay back debts, invest more, and talent stack while building your empire.

Since you’ve had excellent practice living with less in college, why not take those soft skills and use them to build wealth? The biggest mistake college grads do is succumb to lifestyle creep. It’s a very real thing. I wrote before the real reason doctors can’t pay back their student debt: because they won’t.

Here are my top frugal life hacks:

By the way, the ULTIMATE LIST of things I have given up in the name of frugality can be found here.

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Dear College Kid: Experience Trumps Degrees

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

Dear College Kid,

Let me be the first to tell you that experience will always, always trump degrees. You can pay a lot of money to go to school (I paid over $575,000 for example!) or have formal training by lieu of classes, but at the end of the day, a newly graduated kid with a license will not add as much value to a company as the one who volunteered in the field and has solved its problems.

I liken it to applying for university. GPAs now mean diddly squat. The California UC system has written off the SATs. Whatever grades or awards you got in high school isn’t as important as what you’ve done. Extra curricular activities, previous projects, volunteer opportunities … in other words, how much of the world have you seen and contributed to? This is what’s important.

To be honest with you, we are entering a time period where the college degree becomes less relevant. I would love to live to see that one day. But even now, I see kids who have solved problems in a field or gained hands-on experience through shadowing or volunteering trump new grads. That is especially true in software, computer programming, digital marketing, finance and art. (Unfortunately, the healthcare field still requires official stamps on paper.)

Let me tell you that most jobs I did never required a degree. I didn’t get a degree on writing, coding, digital marketing or website production to create this blog. Everything was learned as I went along. I never got a culinary degree to open my own bakery. But my experience making bread surely helped. It required no paperwork to create a pet sitting business. Not once did I work at a vet’s office, groomer’s or pet store. I do not have an accounting degree, a finance major, or past sales experience. Yet I am a wholesale director for a bakery who runs the billing, the accounting, and manages wholesale clients.

For six years, I never even had my diploma. I did not realize I lost it, because no one ever asked for it. Even though I have started five new jobs since then. Just recently, my dental office asked if they could hang a copy of it up. I searched frantically to no avail. My mom finally found it jammed between some canvases of art in my parent’s garage.

That’s a metaphor for what my degree is: A work of art, that no one cares to look at.

Instead, be a muse. Have a story to tell, filled with experiences and lessons learned. THAT is worth something!

However, you may already be in college trying to earn that paper. That’s fine. But here are a few ways to talent stack:

5 Ways To Gain More Experience

  1. Learn a new skill.
  2. Volunteer in your field.
  3. Shadow a professional.
  4. Explore YouTube or blogs.
  5. Work on self-improvement.

All the best, ’til next week!

Dear College Kid: What Are Your Summer Plans?

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

Dear College Kid,

What are your summer plans? Do you have a trip somewhere far away? Will you be on the road, or by the beach? Or will you be looking for a job, having graduated this year? Whatever it is, I hope you find time in between your play to plan for the future and get ahead. Not to be a kill joy, but someone’s got to remind you that now is not the time to be lazy. You can enjoy your break, but balance it with making some moves. It’s equally fun!

I write about becoming 1% Better all the time. I write them for you. Here are a few self-improvement ideas that you can implement this summer. It doesn’t have to be all of them, but I promise you will feel more fulfilled and refreshed if you partner relaxation with productivity. They feed on each other very well.

Productive Ideas for your Summer Break

  1. Declutter your things (and then the rest of your life) in order to gain clarity on who you want to become.
  2. List 10 habits that would make YOU better each day. Then create a goal to do all ten every day. These are mine. Habits will make your life easier in the future.
  3. Learn how to optimize scheduling your day to be more productive.
  4. Identify the ONE thing you want to achieve this summer.
  5. Hone your skills or learn something new in Skillshare.
  6. Create your budgeting tool so you can learn to manage your spending at a young age.
  7. Learn how I Bonds can help pay for college.
  8. Clean your apartment, so you have more thinking space. Develop the habit of keeping it clean 24/7 (which may sound crazy!) so that you don’t have to clean as much in the future.
  9. Start preparing for financial success post grad.
  10. Get student loan advice. The earlier you start, the sooner you’ll be financially free to live your dream life. I highly recommend Travis Hornsby and his team at Student Loan Planner. Andrew Paulson, from White Coat Investor, is another option. 

As I said earlier, balance is key. Have some fun this summer too. Do not waste it away on social media, watching television, or perusing YouTube. Such things would only take up space and fill your head. Summer is time for a real reset. Check out these 50 analog activities that resist the attention economy to ensure you get the relaxation you need.

And don’t forget to check in every Monday for a new letter to my past college kid self.

Dear College Kid: Choose the Cheapest School

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

Dear College Kid,

Specifically the college undergrad hoping to enter grad school. (I am also addressing my past self.) I beg you, choose the grad school that costs the least amount of money. It doesn’t matter how well known they are, it doesn’t matter if your parents or friends went there, it doesn’t even matter if you like it. It matters most that it’s the cheapest.

At the end of your grad school career, you will walk away, diploma in hand regardless. You may also walk away with a large student debt. If you choose the cheapest school you can possibly go to, you will have an advantage over your peers. You will be starting your life at a better starting point.

I would love to teach all college students to choose grad schools based on price. If more kids opted for cheaper schools, perhaps elite schools wouldn’t charge so much. A decrease in their applications will certainly give them pause. What if no one applied to the most expensive schools in the country? Trust me, those private institutions will start to wonder why. Let’s not feed them our young.

Starting a career with less debt is equally as good as starting a marriage with less debt. You want the foundation of your life to be on solid ground. If you begin life in the red, then you will encounter more struggles than the people around you. There will be more restrictions with what you can do.

This isn’t to say you can’t live a flashy and glamorous life. You certainly can, but you are restricted to a loan forgiveness program. Or you have to work more hours. Or you may be tied to a job that you hate in order to pay the bills.

But if you start your life with less debt, you will have more freedom to choose how that debt is repaid. You can be ahead of the curve and have a higher savings rate. With more savings, you will reach your financial goals quicker. You can work less hours, leaving time to learn about investments instead. Or you can focus on building careers around your passions rather than your degree.

There are so many benefits to having less student debt. I really implore you to consider the following:

Choose the college that will cost you the least amount of money, because that may also be the path of least resistance to financial success for new grads.

At least, that’s what I would tell my past self. I hope she listens.

If you’d like to speak to a professional, I have a recommendation! Speak to Travis Hornsby and his team at Student Loan Planner. They are knowledgeable and give great advice.