Over the past week, three new graduates reached out to me with $230,000, $240,000 and $300,000 of student loan debt, respectively.
Assuming an average interest rate of 6% and a 10-year repayment plan, the payment due on this type of debt would be $2500 – $3300 per month.
As a point of reference, that monthly payment is more than a mortgage payment on a $500,000 house with 4% interest and a 30-year repayment plan.
All three of these new graduates used words like overwhelmed, drowning, guilty, and confused to describe their situation. I could sense a feeling of anxiety and hopelessness in their communication despite making a six-figure income or being on their way to do so after residency training.
When I heard from these pharmacists, it resonated with my own personal situation where I found myself with $200,000 of non-mortgage debt, making payments of more than $2000 per month and seeing my balance inch downwards in a way that felt like it would never be gone.
So, if you find yourself in mounds of student loan debt, where should you start?
Would it be best to begin with the emergency fund? How about refinancing the loans? What about retirement? Is buying a home going to be possible? If so, when? What about planning a wedding or preparing for the expenses of children?
You get the point. It quickly becomes overwhelming.
For those that are resonating with this feeling of being overwhelmed and in part feeling hopeless, let this post reassure you that (1) you are not alone and (2) being aware of this feeling is the first step in turning the ship around.
The easy thing to do is to get overwhelmed with feeling like you need to do everything at once. I can assure you that the result will more likely than not be spinning your wheels and getting frustrated.
It’s time to do something different.
Your Financial Homework
I want you to make a commitment to get ONE SMALL WIN before the month is over that will help get some momentum moving in the right direction.
Here are some SMALL WIN IDEAS to get you started:
- Read one personal finance book;
- Put together a budget;
- Give yourself direction by setting financial goals;
- Save $100 towards an emergency fund;
- Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a question that has been on your mind and is causing you stress;
- Buy a term-life insurance policy to make sure your family is protected in the event of your death;
- Get rid of a credit card that is plaguing you.
Once you identify and achieve your ONE SMALL WIN, drop a note in the comments section below summarizing what you achieved.
Remember, you are not alone and sharing your ONE SMALL WIN may encourage another pharmacist to do the same.