To paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, this is your one precious life. How are you going to live it? As conventional wisdom would have it, anyone in six figure student loan debt really has no choice on how to live their lives. The debt is a death sentence, and you have no choice but to buckle down, give up your normal lid, slowly do their time, and wait out your sentence.
I say, No, we’re Student Debt Rebels, and we have the right to an exciting, fulfilling life, while still getting out of high student debt.
I’ve compiled the top five pieces of advice touted by mainstream get-out-of-debt gurus, and my “revolutionary” recommendations.
#1 – With six-figure debt, you need a graduate degree to land a job to earn enough to pay down your student loans.
Not necessarily. If you’ve checked out my other blogs, or read my story on my site, you’ll know that I work in the finance industry, and I have a degree in film. Yes, I do have a graduate degree in film production, but I wouldn’t have needed one necessarily for the executive assistant job I landed with a hedge fund. With bonuses, I’ve made more than enough money to pay down nearly $280,000 in student debt in just a few years. My advice: do NOT get a graduate degree unless you absolutely must for your career. It is not worth it. Instead, follow the money and get a job in an industry that has a lot of it.
#2 – Work with your student loan provider to reduce your monthly minimum payment.
Yeah, right, and spend half your life paying off your high six figure debt. Forget that. I say: pay hundreds and even thousands extra per month toward your student loan. How? Get a more high paying job.nHow? Where? What kind of job? It will be in my book.
#3 – Budget tightly. Get rid of all luxury items, including Starbucks and cable. Live as frugally as possible. Put every extra dime toward your high student debt.
Are you kidding? Eek out a pathetic existence that’s not even worth living? Make your life even more miserable because now you’re faced with decades of both debt and a life of absolutely no frills?
No. Never. I say: travel the globe while paying down your debt; hire a trainer; work with a coach on your art; buy clothes that make you feel good.
How dare an unfair education system lock an entire generation into a cycle of poverty?! It’s our job to rebel against that. We have one life, and we need to choose what to do with them. Stay at home eating ramen noodles and crying ourselves to sleep? No. No. No. Have the chutzpah to get out there and demand a high salary. If your industry doesn’t have such jobs, find an industry that does.
#4 – Move in with your parents, get roommates, do whatever it takes to decrease your rental costs, to have more money to pay down your high student debt.
For how long? If it takes half your life to pay off a six-figure debt, you’ll be in your parents’ basement until you’re in your 50’s. That’s ridiculous. That’s depressing. That is NOT the answer.
Before I landed a job at one of the top hedge funds in SE Asia, I was living with several roommates, and even had to share a small bedroom with a French girl. Forget about romance. Neither of us was bringing anyone home, then or in the foreseeable future. What kind of life is that?
Sharing a room when you’re in your late 20s, living with your parents when you’re an adult and are supposed to be spreading your wings, what does that do to the overall quality of life? Again, my advice is NOT about downgrading your life in any way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Find the finances to afford the space you want, and do not rent; buy property. You have the right to a present and a future. But you must have the courage to go out and demand it.
#5 – Put off marriage and having children until you have your student debt under control.
Perhaps this could work for someone in tens of thousand of dollars of student loan debt, although I doubt even that, but it certainly will not work for someone in massive six-figure debt. I hereby sentence you to a life where you never marry and never have children. This is ridiculous.nImagine both you and your partner take on the challenge of repairing your credit so you can afford a great wedding? What if you moved abroad together, got great jobs that would allow you to avoid income tax (legally of course), and experienced a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, as you paid down your student debt? What if you had children abroad, were able to afford nannies, and with those high-paying jobs, you quickly reduced your student debts, together?
Truly, you are not stuck in a cycle of debt. I promise you, the possibilities are endless. You just have to stop listening to conventional wisdom, and start thinking like a rebel.