Who would be happy that their future spouse has $80,000 or more of student loan debt?
I can’t imagine many people would fall in that category.
I definitely wasn’t happy about it at the time, but my mindset has changed since then.
Now, looking back on it, I’m actually happy my wife had $80,000 of student loan debt. Here’s why.
$80,000 of Debt Causes You to Get Serious About Your Finances… Fast!
My wife graduated from college two years after I did, but we knew we were serious before I even graduated from college.
That said, I knew her student loan debt would be a serious obstacle for us in the future from the day I received my first paycheck.
I read a ton of information online about how to best prepare for my future online. A lot of that information came from personal finance blogs that inspired me to start Money Manifesto a few years later.
Had I not known of the possibility of having to help pay back over $80,000 of student loan debt, I may not have taken my finances nearly as seriously and we might not be in great financial shape like we are today.
Student Loans Allowed Her To Enter An Awesome Career
Sadly, if it wasn’t for student loans, Tori wouldn’t have been able to attend college. Even though the amount of debt she ended up with was excessive, that debt did allow her to attend college and take up a career as a Registered Nurse, which she loves.
She gets to help people every day, which is pretty awesome if you ask me.
Yes, different decisions could have been made that would have reduced that cost and debt load, but there is no point dwelling on the past. In fact, the huge amount of her loans helped us get to where we are today.
Good Financial Habits Put Our Financial Future In Great Shape
The financial habits we formed helped us to get where we are today. We aggressively paid off her $80,000+ of student loan debt in less than three years after she graduated from college.
That means we were putting a huge percentage of our income toward student loan debt repayment.
However, after we were done paying off her student loans, we now had a massive chunk of our income that was freed up for other financial goals. While we were already saving some for retirement, we increased our retirement contributions to a much healthier level.
We saved and saved until we had a full emergency fund and then we began to invest in a taxable investment account that we could use in cases of extreme emergency without draining our retirement funds.
Ultimately, living on much less than our income allowed us to make an even bigger life change.
The Debt Encouraged Me To Start A Side Hustle That Turned Into My Career
If we didn’t have to pay back over $80,000 of student loan debt, I don’t know that I would have ever started a side hustle. Yes, I probably still would have started Money Manifesto, but I never would have realized the opportunity that I could make money online.
Since starting Money Manifesto, I’ve earned tens of thousands of dollars I never would have considered possible.
I’ve made money advertising on this website, I’ve earned money writing for other websites and I’ve even learned how to earn some extra money here at my home.
Without the debt, I don’t know I would have been interested enough to make it happen. Instead, because of this debt, I discovered a great career opportunity to start my own business through this blog and become self-employed.
I’ve only been self-employed for a short time as of this writing, but I definitely see a very high income potential just a short bit down the road.
What Would Have Happened Without The Debt?
Sometimes I wonder about what would have happened if my wife never had $80,000 in student loan debt when she graduated, but upon further reflection, I’ve decided it isn’t a fair question.
Now I look at what that $80,000 plus interest, which is probably closer to $100,000 or more, would do for us today.
We could be closer to financial independence if we invested that money. We could own a condo on the beach if we used that money for a down payment or we could have a nicer primary residence. However, none of this is true.
If my wife didn’t have that $80,000 of student loan debt, who is to say we would have made financial decisions as we have with the debt. Would we have been as strict on our spending when we were paying down the debt? Probably not.
Would I have made tens of thousands of dollars from side hustle income? Probably not. In fact, we might be in the same financial position or worse without the debt, which is a scary thought.
So today, I realize that I’m thankful that we had to pay off $80,000 of student loan debt. It put us on a path of a successful financial future. It gave my wife a great career path and opened my eyes to a new career path of self-employment.
I wouldn’t want to give up those opportunities.
Have you ever had debt that was a major burden at the time, but that you are now thankful for? Do you think I’m crazy that I’m happy my wife owed $80,000 in student loan debt when she graduated college? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.