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Debt After College: How Do You Deal With It?


Do you currently have student loans? If you’re a normal human being, you probably do. And, you’re probably wondering how you should be dealing with them!

Way to Invest In Your Future!

While you’re in school, your parents and grandparents often express how proud you are making them, but very little advice is given once those loan repayment statements start coming in the mail!

When our student loan bills made their way to our house, I was not prepared for it at all! In fact, money was so tight that we decided to defer our loans for two months! No one told me about this step in the process! It was all sunshine and rainbows….. I was supposedly going to find my dream job, move up the ladder, and retire early with huge benefits from the company… however, as I learned later, this is just a fairy tail for most of us.

The Truth About Those Loans

The truth: there aren’t any rainbows, and I certainly didn’t see any sunshine when I opened those student loan envelopes. They are a nuisance and they cause stress like you’ve never felt before!

I just recently bumped into an old friend of mine from high school. The last time I saw him, his voice was still cracking and I could see the glow of the sun off his greasy forehead (I guess mine was greasy too… you know, teenage nastiness syndrome – my point is, it had been a while), and do you know what I found out?! He just passed his exam and he is a certified doctor!

Being the finance man that I am, I starting asking him about his financial situation, assuming that he must have had loans to get through his 8 years of schooling. To my surprise, he was able to escape his first 4 years without an ounce of debt; however, the next 4 years was another story.

Because medical school was so demanding, there was no possible way for him to tackle a job at the same time. I can only imagine what the final bill was – I don’t think it would be too tough to accumulate $100,000 in student loans at a graduate level. Whatever the number was, the emotional outcome was evident: FEAR.

While he had attained that piece of paper that supposedly guaranteed success, the massive debt load was already crushing his spirits. His timeline was 6 months…. that’s when those loan statements would start knocking at his door.

How to Deal With Those Student Loans

If I were in my friend’s situation (and I was once, only on a smaller scale), I would focus most certainly focus on paying off the debt as soon as possible, and in order to do that, I would follow these steps:

  1. Make Sure Your Spouse is on Board – don’t ever just assume that your spouse/significant other will be on board with throwing large sums of money at your debt load. If he/she doesn’t want to pay extra toward the debts, then it’s not going to happen. But, if you decide to work on those student loans together, then it will happen way faster than you ever dreamed possible!
  2. Yes, You Will Need to Budget – budgeting has such a bad wrap, but if you look carefully at those that ignore it, they’re the ones that will be living off the government aid in the future (if it even exists!). By telling your money where to go, you will most certainly be able to spend less on the unimportant day-to-day expenses, and allocate more to those student loans!
  3. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Lifestyle – I actually gave this advice to my friend on the spot. All of his doctor friends are going to be driving Porches and living in McMansions. He’s going to feel like a chump in his dumpy single bedroom apartment. It’s going to be tought not to start financing his way into looking successful. After all, he’ll be able to pay it off with the money he’ll be making in the near-future right? Well, that’s the trap. It’s nice to live the lifestyle of the wealthy, but only if you’re truly wealthy…. pay off the debt first.
  4. Stay Consistant – Develop a plan and stick to it! Once you deviate from it, it’s really tough to get back on track. Also, if your income starts to go up, put that extra money toward the debt, don’t increase your lifestyle.

Do you currently have student loans? When do you plan on paying them off? Have you ever thought about the freedom you’ll feel once they’re gone? 🙂

Get Out of Debt Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Great tips Derek. There are certain vocational degree programs that almost force you to go into debt. Hopefully your friend is able to get out of debt as soon as possible. It can be difficult to tackle debt first, but is well worth it in the long run.

    • I know my friend has the drive to get out of debt now, but I also know that after a year or two, getting out of debt isn’t as much fun as it once sounded. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Yes, I still have school loans and am paying them off slowly but surely. I have other debt that I will be focusing on first. I think your advice is spot on.

    • Thanks CFM. It means alot to get your approval, because I know you’ve had great comments on some of my past articles. Thanks!

  3. Great post Derek. I have been fortunate to not have school debt but I have had debt in the past from other things. I like you point about getting your spouse on board. This really is important because once you are married you have to share the financial decisions together since it is now your joint life. My hubby and I had to have a few serious talks in the beginning about our plans and how to address my debt. The talk really helped us understand each other and devise a plan that would actually work.

    • Having the spouse on board is huge! That’s why it’s #1! 🙂 Without a helpful partner, you’ll never be able to achieve what you want. Thanks for the comment Miss T!

  4. My son is in a situation similar to your friend’s. We–him, his wife, and I–all worked like hell to get him through his undergrad with no loans. This is crucial for any student who wants to go on to a professional school! I know kids who are shackled to tens of thousands of dollars in loans from their undergrads, and that gives them little chance of taking on the kinds of debt that medical school requires for normal working families.

    • Great job keeping away the loans during the undergrad! That’s quite an accomplishment! I hope your son is able to pay back his medical school loans soon as well! Best of luck!

  5. Still paying off student loans! I have paid some of them off already by doing many of the suggestions you mentioned so here is at least one person verifying that you have a good grasp on the best way to tackle mountains of student loans.

    • Good job Shan! Keep working at paying them off. You can do it! 🙂

  6. These are all excellent tips. I also might suggest that there are ways to pay off student loans much quicker, if you are willing to go this route. The military has excellent tuition repayment/reimbursement programs. Don’t join just to pay off your loans, but it is an excellent side benefit. You could also consider working for the Peace Corp. or Americorps. Another option is to find a company who will reimburse you for your student loans. There are some (even in this economic state of ours). Also, a word of caution, be careful if you make the decision to consolidate your student loans into one easy payment. You will forfeit your right to apply for a forbearance or deferment if you ever need one.

    • It is a nice perk, but I would definitely be careful with this. If you have no interest in joining the military, but you’re joining just for the aid, don’t do it! That is not the intent. The military is a very serious occupation and should be chosen with careful thought and consideration.

  7. It is so hard not to spend the money that you are earning currently in order to match your lifestyle with what you see. But it is much more rewarding when you know that your debts are paid and the car that you drive is yours outright.

    • You’re right! Once those debts are paid off, you’ll feel so much more wealthy than your friends! Your cashflow will be large and you’ll be able to do many things that your friends won’t because they’re under the pressures of those monthly payments. Thanks for the comment FSYA!

  8. You must have consulted with my wife before writing this. I paid off my student loans before we were married, and I paid off hers after we were married. I suppose I was on-board.

    Thanks Derek.

    • Haha. I bet there was some tension there while you were helping pay off her loans huh!? My wife and I both had loans, but mine totalled up to more…. you know where this is going…. 😉

  9. Great advice Derek! He’ll be making a lot of money soon and should be able to pay down the loan quickly if they work at it. They can wait for lifestyle inflation until after the loan is paid off. 🙂

    • Yep yep! Just hold out on the lifestyle and the debt should get paid off very quickly!

  10. After high school, going into college, I didn’t see any logic in going into debt to go to college to get a job….. Perhaps, I’m out of the ordinary but I made sure to go to a college where I could get scholarships to pay for my undergrad and then I worked for a few years after that, making sure to keep my lifestyle expenses low, to pay cash for grad school. Don’t regret any of my decisions 🙂 But I agree, it’s definitely easier to keep the lifestyle expenses low and pay off debt at a much faster rate.

    • Great job for never going into debt! You are definitely one of the few! I bet it feels great now that you’re out of grad school with no debt. 🙂

      • It did take a lot of sacrifices such as having roommates, but I found this helped build my character and also keeping the same car for 11+ years. It takes self-control and financial planning 🙂 I tend to stick with my own ideas even if they are against the “norm”.

  11. Great advice! My husband and I graduated 2 years ago with $87,000 in student debt. We both had decent jobs coming out of school, so it was hard to not spend all of the money we had coming in and try to live up the lifestyle of our co-workers. But we buckled down, didn’t buy that post-graduation new car many people buy with their first job, live in a tiny 1-bedroom, and don’t buy any extras…and thankfully, we paid off every dime last month!

    • I’m so excited for you! I’d love it if you wrote about your experiences – I’d post it on my site!

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