National student loan debt has been increasing at a rapid pace over the past two decades. The total now tops $1.2 trillion, surpassing auto and credit card debt. It’s hampered many young people’s ability to purchase a home and even keep current on monthly bills.
However, financial planners are warning borrowers to not be in such a hurry to pay off this debt. In fact, young borrowers could wind up being poorer if they accelerate student loan debt repayment over saving for retirement.
Here’s why: Retirement contributions typically offer tax breaks, company matches and future compounding that are worth far more than the interest saved by accelerated loan repayment. Many young borrowers focus on the now, putting retirement savings on the back burner, which can be a costly mistake.
A $1,000 contribution made at age 25 would typically be worth $20,000 or more at retirement age, while the same contribution would be worth about $10,000 when made at age 35, assuming 8 percent average annual returns. Even if participants do not achieve 8 percent, which is the historical stock market average for periods over 30 years, the math still holds: contributions made earlier return dramatically more.
Thanks to compounding, contributions made when workers are in their 20s can be worth twice as contributions made later. That’s because the money has longer to grow.
A recent TransUnion study of “credit active” consumers — people with at least one credit account or loan — found that 51 percent of those aged 20 to 29 have student loan debt, compared to 31 percent in 2005. Balances have soared as well, the study found. The average balance for a 20-something borrower in 2014 was $25,525, compared to $15,853 in 2007. That’s a 60 percent increase.
An Experian study found an even greater rise in student loan debt when the rest of the population was counted in. The study found that student loan debt had risen 84 percent between 2008 and 2014 and that the average balance for borrowers of all ages was $29,000.
Some good advice… Student loan borrowers should always make the required payments on their federal education loans, since the penalties for default are severe. But do not postpone saving for retirement. Make sure your employer is matching you on your retirement contributions, since that money is essentially free, before using any extra money to pay down student loan debt.
For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at http://www.miamibankruptcy.com.