If you’re a recent college grad, congratulations! You did all the hard work pulling those all-nighters to get your degree, and you’ve finally arrived into the wild world of adulthood.
For most of you, though, that means the real work is only just beginning. The graduating class of 2016 has the highest student loan debt in history, and each student’s share of the total is a gasp-inducing $37,173.
Please remember that this number is just the average — you could owe even more. Either way, you probably owe a good six to 12 percent more than your older brothers and sisters who graduated just a year or two before you.
Related Post: Creating a Student Loan Debt Plan of Attack
$37,000 is a lot of money, and it can take a long time to pay it all back. Loans from the government are set to a standard 10-year payback timetable, but most people take over twice as long to completely pay off all of their student debt, especially if it’s held by private lenders. That means you could be paying for the halcyon days at your alma mater until you’re in your 40s.
In the meantime, you’ll be missing out on all kinds of fun stuff you could have been spending that money on. Assuming a 10-year loan at five percent interest, your monthly payment is just shy of $400 a month. Here’s what you could buy with that money if you had it to spend on anything you wanted:
- Two year-long trips around the world
- Sixteen month’s rent in an average New York City apartment
- Nine thousand six hundred $5 foot-longs from Subway
- Four thousand eight hundred movies at the local cinemaplex
- Six thousand large buckets of popcorn — though if you want to do both numbers four and five, you’ll only be able to go to the movies 2,666 times
- Six hundred annual “America the Beautiful” National Park passes
- Over 400 years of Netflix
- One Model 3 Tesla, with cash to spare for lots of extra features
- Two elephants from India — this is obviously illegal but still wanted to throw that out there
- Six thousand eight hundred fifty-seven 6-packs of Bud Light
- Four thousand 6-packs of better beer to impress your friends
- One thousand nine hundred twenty $25 U.S. savings bonds. Depending on how long you hold on to them, you’d walk away with extra money on this venture!
- Two nicely-equipped Toyota Prius-C hybrids
- Thirteen week-long Viking River Cruises in Europe
- Six week-long Viking River Cruises if you want to bring a friend to share in your good fortune and upgrade to a fancier stateroom
- Twenty-four thousand gallons of milk
- Sixteen thousand gallons of organic milk
- Two hundred eighty-eight thousand eggs — that’s 24,000 dozen.
- One 20-percent down payment on a $240,000 house
- Thirty-seven thousand two hundred nine songs on iTunes
- Sixty-four iPhone 7s. If you want the most possible memory, you’ll only be able to afford 56 of them.
- Four hundred eighty-four year’s worth of Amazon Prime memberships
- Fifty-six front-row tickets to “Hamilton” on Broadway
- Forty-three days on a private island off the coast of Australia
- One graduate degree at a private university — though if you could have paid cash for your undergraduate degree, you probably wouldn’t have read this far!
Start Getting More of Your Money Back
Clearly, there’s a lot you could be doing with your money instead of paying off your student loans. If you’re reading this pre-student loans, consider exhausting all your options for funding higher education before you take out a loan.
You can try public and private scholarships, attend community college first, apply for financial aid, or work to fund your education so you don’t have to consider taking out student loans.
If you already have quite a bit of student loan debt, realize how much you could do with your money if you didn’t have to make payments on your debt each month. See about refinancing or consolidating your loans for a lower interest rate, which will save you money by lowering your payments.
Related Post: Crush Your Student Loan Debt With Refinancing
You can also do your best to add a little bit of extra money to your payment each month — even just rounding up by $25 or $50 each month will help shave months or even years off of your total repayment period and will lower your overall cost.
What would you do with your money if you didn’t have to use it to pay back student loan debt?
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