When I graduated from Drexel University in 2009 with a degree in engineering, I was 23 and had $200 in my bank account.
I was subletting a small studio apartment in Philadelphia with two other engineers. Out of the three of us, I came out by far the least scathed — I had about $55,000 in student loans. This was after receiving grants, scholarships, and help from my parents every year.
The loan burden: My roommates each had over $100,000 to repay. One of them currently waits tables on weekends on top of having a full-time engineering job. He’s been doing it since we graduated in an admirable effort to pay down his student loan debt.
When I started my career, my monthly student loan payments came to $460. My entry-level engineering job paid $48,000 a year. I was better off than most. My payments were inconvenient but still manageable.
Paying down debt: Aside from moving out of that studio and into a small two-bedroom apartment, I maintained the same modest lifestyle I had while I was a student. A lot of my friends were still struggling to find jobs, so there wasn’t much social pressure on me to get a new car, a nice apartment or eat out at fancy restaurants.
I began attacking my student loans by making double and triple payments. Like a lot of other recent graduates, I was conditioned to fear debt, and I made a point to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Coming out of school just after the financial crisis had a big impact on me. I wanted to know what had just happened and why my friends weren’t getting the jobs they deserved, so I started reading a lot about the crisis and about economics in general.
One important concept that I came across was Opportunity Cost — the notion of quantifying what you give up when you chose one option over another. I asked myself: Why am I rushing to pay off loans with 3% to 6% interest rates when the S&P has historically returned 11%? Continua a leggere