Why? There are two ways to view this question in the world of leadership coaching. Some view this as a question that can raise defensiveness in the person being asked. Some view this as a powerful question to analyze the root cause to a problem. In the context of this blog, it is a powerful question because it motivates the shit out of me. Since my first blog post, I have had quite a few people reach out to me with a variety reactions and inquiries, but my favorite question I have been asked is, “why? why do you need to pay this off so aggressively?”
“It’s not bad debt, you should just pay the minimum on your loans because the rate is low and you can invest the rest in retirement accounts.”
This is what a financial planner told me. He clearly did not listen to the goals/vision I laid out below. I’ve also heard this from friends and family. I crunched the numbers on average returns for various accounts over the next 20 years versus having the loans paid off 15 years earlier and investing that $45,000 of interest into anything that gains a return. Lots of free financial calculators online. Do it. The numbers were in favor of my plan over his. Pick a financial planner that has the same values/goals and not just someone trying to sell you bad products, so they can make a commission. Ask them about how they make money and you’ll get a pretty good idea on their intentions.
Disclaimer: I’m still saving through a 401(k) because the employer match is free money. Your financial situation is different and you should do the math or get someone else who is better at math to crunch the numbers. You could even get one of your finance buddies to run some numbers over a beer. Maybe coffee, keeps her/him alert.
Here is why I have decided to pay the loans off so quickly versus the slow bleeding that could occur over 20 years.
- Math. Think about what I could do with $45,000 saved from interest in the next 20 years.
- Going into my early 30’s with no debt sounds pretty rad.
- Financial freedom, so I can save long term for a variety of things like retirement, education funds for kids, a house, etc.
- I could take a pay cut some day. I love the community and giving back, so having the financial option to go to a nonprofit would be great. They just don’t pay like a big corporation, unless you’re at a big nonprofit like the NFL. Yes, they’re a nonprofit.
- Give money to help others. Whether that is writing a big check to a nonprofit I’m passionate about (not the NFL) or it’s helping someone I know, I want to be able to help others financially when the time comes.
- Freedom of choice. The reasons above all tie back to the ability to make financial choices without the financial restraints of a nearly $1,000 minimum payment every month.
Some people have the attitude that debt is just part of life. I don’t want to carry that attitude based on the vision I have set forth in the list above. Whether you’re paying off school debt, trying to lose weight, or debating whether or not to quit your job, I believe it is important to explore the answer to ‘why’.
Let’s have a conversation. Make a comment below and tell me why or why not aggressively pay school loans (or any loan for that matter). Thanks team.