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2 Good Reasons to Pay Off Your Student Debt in Your 20s

By Maurie Backman – Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 7:30AM

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The sooner you shed your student debt, the sooner you can focus on important life goals.


Smiling friends having coffee in a cafe.

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Many college graduates come away with debt, and large amounts of it. If you're carrying student loan debt, you're probably aware that the sooner you pay it off, the less interest it'll cost you. That's why it's a great idea to pay off that debt in your 20s. But here are two additional reasons to push yourself to knock out those loans before your 30s kick in.

1. Saving money might be easier in your 20s

You might assume that your 20s are when saving money will be the most difficult, since you'll likely be looking at a fairly entry-level salary (at least to start). But mentally, you might have an easier time saving money by virtue of being more open to living on less.

Think about it: When you're in your 20s, you may not mind living in a cramped studio apartment, or sharing a living space with four other roommates. Similarly, it may not bother you to not have a vehicle of your own and bum rides frequently. But as you get older, your patience for frugal living might wane, which is why your 20s are the perfect time to spend less, save aggressively, and knock out your student debt for good.

Remember, once you reach your 30s you may find that your friends are upgrading their living spaces and indulging in the finer things in life more often. And at that point, you may have a harder time cutting back on expenses to save money. 

2. You can only delay major life milestones for so long

Many people with student loans put off milestones like getting married, having a baby, or buying a home because they want to clear that debt away first. In your 20s, these milestones may not seem so pressing. But as you get older, the pressure to tie the knot, build a family, and stop throwing away money on rent might mount. And if you're still saddled with student debt at that point, it could make for a tricky financial situation. 

If you do manage to knock out your student debt in your 20s, then you should, in theory, have an easier time doing all the aforementioned things. Take throwing a wedding -- the expense of getting married won't seem as frightening when you're no longer thousands of dollars in the hole. The same holds true for starting a family -- the idea of taking on childcare costs should sit better when your income is no longer monopolized by debt payments. And as far as buying a home goes, you're actually more likely to get approved for a mortgage when you don't have additional debt, so paying off your student loans can help there, too. 

Of course, this isn't to say that you can't get married, have a baby, or buy a home while carrying student debt, and it also isn't meant to imply that people in their 20s never do these things. Rather, the older you get, the more likely you are to want to tackle these goals, and not having student debt could make that easier. 

It may not be possible to pay off all of your student loans in your 20s, especially if you have other big expenses to contend with, and/or a large amount of debt in your name. But if you are able to achieve that goal, you'll really have something to celebrate by the time you reach the big 3-0.

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