Now that President Biden has commissioned student loan forgiveness, many low- to middle-income borrowers with debt in the amount of $10,000 or less, will have their student loans wiped away or seriously reduced.
Some borrowers will have some relief, but will still find themselves in major student loan debt. The major debate of paying off student loans quickly versus staying on the lender’s payment schedule is still ongoing.
There are pros and cons to paying off student loan debt fast, and it’s important to weigh them all before making a decision.
Pros of Paying Off Student Loan Debt Fast
There are a number of benefits to paying off your student loan debt as quickly as possible. Let’s quickly discuss some pros.
Pro #1: Paying less in interest
The biggest advantage of paying off your loans fast is that you’ll save money on interest payments. The longer you take to pay off your loans, the more interest you’ll accrue, and the higher your monthly payments will be.
However, if you can swing it, paying off your loans as quickly as possible will save you a ton of money in the long run. In fact, according to one estimate, paying off your loans five years early can save you more than $20,000 in interest payments.
Pro #2: Peace of mind
Another big advantage of paying off your student loan debt fast is that it can give you peace of mind. Once your loans are paid off, you won’t have to worry about making monthly payments or accruing more debt. You can just focus on other things, like saving for retirement or buying a home.
We decided to pay off our $662,000 student loan debt in 3 years precisely for peace of mind. Having that much debt over our heads was weighing too much into life decisions – where we lived, having children, jobs we would take, etc…
By eliminating the debt, we were not only debt free, but we were free to make life decisions without worry about the debt.
Pro # 3: Increase net worth
Finally, paying off your student loan debt fast can also help increase your net worth over time. That’s because your student loans are technically a liability on your balance sheet. So, the sooner you pay them off, the less of a liability they are.
We literally had a negative net worth when our student loans still existed. That put a major damper on our ability to build wealth.
As your student loan balance decreases, your net worth will increase. And as your net worth increases, so does your financial security.
Cons of Paying Off Student Loan Debt Fast
Of course, there are also a few drawbacks to paying off your student loan debt fast. Here are some cons when paying off student loan debt fast.
Con #1: Delayed investments/less money to invest
One of the biggest drawbacks of paying off your student loan debt fast is that you may have to delay or decrease the amount you make in investments in order to make extra payments on your loans.
We definitely threw a lot of our income at the debt, so for three years, the amount we invested in the stock market was less than optimal. Those payments are now freed up for us to maximize our investments.
Con #2: Less disposable income
Another potential downside of paying off your student loan debt fast is that you may have less disposable income each month after you pay off your loans. That’s because you’ll no longer have the money from your monthly loan payments to use for other purposes.
For us, that meant putting other purchases, like that big vacation, on hold. The nice thing, though, is that once the loans were paid off, that payment became disposable income to do with whatever we like.
Con #3: Working more to make payments
Finally, one of the biggest drawbacks of paying off your student loan debt fast is that you may have to work more hours in order to make the extra loan payments.
If you’re not careful, this can lead to burnout, so be sure to factor in your work-life balance when deciding whether or not to pay off your loans fast.
We worked like crazy for three years with the understanding that this was only temporary. We worked full-time/permanent employed positions and during our free time worked as locum tenens.
The other side of this that might not make it such a con is that you could make more payments by starting your own business. Doing something that you created and that you love could make all of the extra work worth it. We actually started 3 businesses – Docs Outside the Box podcast, Pre-med Strategies, and our own locum tenens agency – with about a third of our student loans remaining.
Now that student loans are no longer a part of our lives, we do clinical work only as locum tenens so that we control when and how much we work. It’s great!
Paying off your student loan debt fast has a lot of advantages, but there are also a few potential drawbacks to consider. So, before you make a decision, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Need more tips and help? Check out the Docs Outside the Box podcast!