July 15, 2024
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THE MONEY MINDER

‘Should I try to pay off my debt as soon as possible?’: I’m a soon-to-be grad with $17.5k in student loans. Save for a condo or clear debt first? What’s my best move?

‘Should I try to pay off my debt as soon as possible?’: I’m a soon-to-be grad with .5k in student loans. Save for a condo or clear debt first? What’s my best move?

Hi Money Minder,

I’m interning right now, stacking some cash before heading back to school this fall. I’ll graduate this December and kick off full-time work in January, making around $75,000 a year or about $4,500 a month (after taxes). I’ve got about $17,500 in student loans, and by the end of this summer, I should have around $8,500 saved up.

The plan is to live with my parents until May, when my girlfriend graduates. Once she does, I want to buy a condo instead of renting. So, here’s my dilemma: Should I focus on paying off my debt ASAP or aim to save up for the condo between January and May? I’m just looking for some tips on how to get my life started on the right path.

Money Minder, I could really use your advice!

Thanks!

– Future Forward

Response from THE MONEY MINDER:

Hello There

Hello there,

First off, congratulations on nearing the completion of your studies and securing a full-time job with a solid salary starting in January! That’s a significant milestone and a great way to kick off your professional career.

Given your situation, you have a couple of important goals: managing your student loans and saving for a future home. Since you plan to live with your parents until May, you have a unique opportunity to save a substantial amount of money in a relatively short period.

To set yourself up for success, I recommend a balanced approach. Between January and May, aim to build a healthy emergency fund – something in the range of 3-6 months of living expenses. This fund will provide a financial cushion for any unexpected events and give you peace of mind while you focus on other financial goals.

Simultaneously, start making regular payments on your student loans. While it might be tempting to throw all your extra money at your debt right away, maintaining minimum payments will keep your loans in good standing and help you establish good habits without stretching your finances too thin.

Since you’ll be earning around $4500 a month after taxes, you will have room to allocate funds towards both your emergency savings and loan repayment. Consider putting around 20-30% of your income towards savings and another 10-15% towards your student loans. By May, you should have a significant amount saved and a head start on your loan repayment.

Once your girlfriend graduates and you’re ready to consider a condo, the savings you’ve accumulated can serve as a down payment. It’s worth noting that avoiding rent and going straight to a home purchase can be smart financially, provided you’re ready for the responsibilities that come with homeownership.

Ultimately, striking a balance between saving for the future and managing debt responsibly is the wisest path forward. This approach ensures you’re building a secure financial foundation while also progressing on your student loans, setting you up for long-term success.

Wishing you all the best in your new chapter!

Kind regards,

THE MONEY MINDER

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