Our question of the month comes from Joe from South Dakota:
Like you, I have a young family (wife + 2 young kids), a house, and a blessed life. However, I do have a mountain of student debt (~200,000) that I have accumulated through a doctorate in Chiropractic that creates considerable stress in our little world.
We are working to pay that down as much as possible but man it is hard to get ahead of!
We are also blessed to currently have:
- my wife's loans paid off
- no credit card debt
- no car payments
- and our only bills are the mortgage and my loans
At the same time, we understand the importance of setting ourselves and kids up for success in the future, and are trying to put money away as well so we can take advantage of compounding interest, but it is hard to know the right path (especially with all the “experts”) out there.
All of the above can really cause a person to get “stuck in the mud” and just throw your hands in the air and continue to put it off, but your podcast has really helped us stay out of that mentality.
Any advice or resources you think might benefit us would be much appreciated.
Thanks for writing in Dr. Joe!
I completely understand how you feel. With the demands of young parenthood and your career, the last thing you want is a mountain of debt sitting on your shoulders.
I invited Ryan Inman from the Financial Residency Podcast to help me answer your question today. We came up with 5 ideas for you to consider to get rid of this debt.
1. Give Yourself a Visual Motivator
Find a place in your home where you can post up a huge goal setting thermometer chart. That way you'll have a visual motivator that can drive you to hit your goals.
Also, by setting up milestones of $50,000, $100,000, $150,000 and then $200,000, you'll give yourself an opportunity to celebrate along the way.
Take the kids for a big ice cream celebration at $50,000. How about a champagne toast at $100,000 with your wife? Make it fun and capture the memories with your family.
Paying off huge debt can be a blast. (Check out how my family enjoyed celebrating crushing our $200,000 mortgage!)
2. Look into Refinancing Your Loans
Ryan and I weren't sure on your specific interest rates, but refinancing may be an option for you to significantly lower your payments.
Check out a partner like SoFi. They can help you compare rates from other lenders and potentially save $10,000+ per year based on your situation.
Now if your credit isn't that great, you'll want to take some action to bring your credit score up. The higher your credit score, the better the rate you're going to get.
If you don't know your credit score, you can receive your score for free here.
3. Create a Budget and Spending Plan
When you're paying down $200,000 of debt, knowing your detailed income and expenses matters.
Utilize a spreadsheet-based system like Tiller to clearly layout your income and expenses and let automation do the rest. The clarity that will come from understanding your true financial picture will be incredibly refreshing.
If you're spending more than 50% on your fixed expenses (home, transportation, food, utilities, ya know, the big stuff), then see what you can do to decrease your spending so you can make room for bigger debt payments.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming House Rich and Cash Poor
4. Take Advantage of Matching Retirement
Even though paying off your student debt is important, don't forget to take advantage of any workplace retirement matching that may exist.
In your situation, it would make sense to contribute up to the match so you're not leaving any FREE MONEY on the table. For example, I have a 401k at my office that matches 15% of my contributions. Since I max out my contributions at $18,500 (2018), I'm able to receive $2,775 of free money each year from my company.
This money will compound year over year and give you a nice retirement nest egg in the future.
5. Increase Your Income
Not everyone wants to do a side hustle to make more money especially when you're a young parent. I get it.
Is there a hobby of yours that you have already that can help you make extra money? For me, I enjoy writing about money and talking about money. At first, it was just a hobby and now it's turned into a small side hustle that pays me $1,000 extra per month. That money sure goes a long way for my financial goals!
If side hustling isn't your thing, see what you or your spouse can do to increase your income at work. To inspire you, here are the ways I have increased my salary from 5-figures to 6-figures.
You're in a great spot, Joe! You have no high-interest debt and you're asking GREAT questions … that means you care and you will clean this debt up soon.
Have some patience and be determined. This debt will be gone soon enough.
CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON ABOVE OR LISTEN ON:
Our Guest Host: Ryan Inman
Ryan Inman is a financial planner and the host of the Financial Residency Podcast which is dedicated to the financial wellbeing of doctors.
His financial wisdom has been featured in Entrepreneur, Go Banking Rates and US News & World Report.
Ryan is married and a proud father to two kids.
Money Master of the Week
Carmen from New York recently paid off $57,000 in just under 3 years!
She reached this milestone by:
- Tracking her spending through a budget
- Paying off her debts smallest to largest using the debt snowball method
- And staying determined
Now she’s ready to build a big emergency fund and buy a house. With her drive and her money not all going towards debt, she’ll get there in no time.
If you want to follow Carmen on her path to financial independence, check her out at Make Real Cents.
Carmen is our Money Master of the Week!
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Our Featured Guest: Chris Hutchins
Chris Hutchins is the Founder and CEO of Grove, a startup reinventing the financial planning to be actionable, affordable, and accessible for everyone.
Before founding Grove, Chris was a Partner at Google Ventures where he focused on seed and early-stage investments and prior to that, Chris co-founded Milk, which was acquired by Google in 2012.
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