While I typically try to give direct advice to the reader about financial decisions in my blog posts on the subject, I sometimes find it helpful to pause and document my own personal finance journey. This, I hope, can give you some context for where my perspective comes from and make the problem feel a little more concrete.
In this case, I’m continuing my so-called “Debt Wars” series because of a recent development: my fiancee’s student loans officially went into repayment because she completed her Master’s Degree over six months ago. We were already paying $600/month toward my student loans, and this adds a further $300/month for hers. Her loan balance is lower than mine ($53,130 versus $63,908 as of this writing), but the payments are so much lower because we picked a slower repayment plan for the time being while we try to make it out of 2019 alive financially.
You see, life was going to get more expensive this year for us anyway. Our rent is about to go up with our roommate, my sister, moving out, from $1000/month to $1500; we are going to be paying for a nontrivial portion of our wedding costs; and we are hoping to transition into homeownership later this year. We have a decent amount of money saved up to help us accomplish these goals (about $16,000 as of this writing), and we are fortunate enough to have a respectable combined household income of about $96,000/year.
But this is the crux of the frustration for me with student loan debt. The cost of living in Northern Colorado, while not as obscene as, say, San Francisco, is pretty high to begin with. Between our student loan payments and our car payment of $400/month, we pay $1300—almost an entire paycheck for me—into loans before we use any money on anything.
This makes it meaningfully harder to get married, to buy a house, to start a family. Meanwhile, idiots write articles about how millennials are “killing” the market for diamonds, beer, and Applebee’s, none of which had any value to begin with.
“Well, the market can bear it, so the prices should rise, durk-a-dur.” Just because a thing like education or healthcare can continue rising in price because it dramatically impacts an individual’s quality of life doesn’t mean that it should. You can price gouge people until they can’t afford to survive on their poverty wages, but that doesn’t make it right. Anyway, the whole “the market is bearing it so it’s fine” argument is contradictory to the notion of encouraging a competitive market. The fact is, it’s not fine, and we shouldn’t accept it as “fine” if we’re true ‘merican capitalists anyway.
One bright spot in this whole fiasco is that my car balance has dropped significantly since I wrote Episode I, from $17,000 to $10,768. Give it another year or two, and we can check that one box off! It seems like it’ll never end, but for now we’ll keep on keeping on.
As you can probably surmise, this is one frustrating situation. Is anyone else dealing with a similar struggle with their student loans or other debts? Let me know how you’re handling it in the comments!
Post number 60.