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Heading: Financial Struggles and Balancing Priorities


I’m currently in grad school pursuing my education, which will be completed in May 2024. However, along with the academic journey comes a burden of student loans amounting to $15,000, as the program costs a total of $36,000. Though I intentionally refrained from borrowing a significant amount, I am now faced with the fact that the interest on these loans will start accruing again in September, even while I’m still studying.

One major financial commitment I made was purchasing a house with my boyfriend 1.5 years ago. He took the entire responsibility of contributing to the down payment, while I used a new 0% credit card to invest $10,000 in refurbishing the floors and purchasing a new fridge. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pay off a substantial portion of this credit card debt during the 0% interest period, as I found it convenient to use the card for dining expenses due to the cashback rewards it offers. Consequently, I had to open a new 0% interest credit card and transfer the remaining $10,000 balance there. However, to completely pay it off by August 2024, I’ll need to allocate $600 per month towards this debt.

It’s worth mentioning that my part-time job currently brings home a monthly income of $3,000. Additionally, I’m obliged to contribute $700 towards the mortgage, which my boyfriend and I agreed upon. Besides the house-related expenses, I still have to handle the fall tuition cost of $2,500, which will be followed by another $2,500 payment for the subsequent semester. These obligations, combined with my existing credit card debts, further contribute to the financial burden. To provide an overview, card 1 requires a monthly payment of $500, card 2 necessitates $100 per month, and card 3 imposes a $400 monthly repayment. I do pay the statement balance in full for these cards due to their high annual percentage rates (APR).

Looking ahead, I plan to allocate funds towards the school loans once the interest resumes in September. However, I find myself in a predicament as I’m unsure how to manage and ultimately pay off all of these debts. Consequently, I’m considering not contributing to my 401k retirement plan. Currently, I allocate 4% of my income, around $150 per paycheck, and my company matches this amount. Although I would lose out on this matching contribution, the additional $150 could significantly alleviate my financial burden.

Additionally, I have $1,300 in an employee stock purchase account which I could consider withdrawing. However, my boyfriend believes it would be best to keep the funds invested in the account.

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  • [deleted]



    I’ll be honest I did not read your entire post. If you can afford it, I would put in the minimum to receive the most matching, if offered by your employer. It’s literally free money. And put the rest toward paying down debt, if you can budget it.

  • Rabbit-Quiet

    my thoughts… if the company is matching to a percentage, put in just that amount.

    use the rest to handle your own items or help adjust your tax bracket.

    afterwards figure out your own way to fund your retirement. I doesn’t have to be a 401k or fully a 401k if you don’t want it to be. the only main part of a 401k is it is pre-tax vs post tax.

  • MindStreamer

    I wouldn’t stop the 401k contribution. Contribute to the match, otherwise you’re leaving money on the table. The money you contribute now will have the biggest effect 30 years from now.

    Take a look at your spending and see if there’s anything you could cut out or minimize. If paying debts is a priority, you can’t be creating more debts unless absolutely necessary.

    You’re lucky you got your loan one and a half years ago. If you bought today your payments would be much higher with interest rates being close to 6% leaving you with little if any wiggle room.

  • TF2Marxist

    It depends.

    So, you’ve got a lot of bad debt right now – the credit cards and student loans are on “pause” for a few months, but like you said you need to pay 600$ a month to not get hit by the card, and interest will begin accruing on your student loans soon theoretically. Therefore:

    1.) Credit cards. 600$/month is 20% of your income. That’s what *most* people save for both emergencies and retirement month to month and still enjoy some good things. You can’t do that right now. You need to seriously consider: 1.) Selling things you own to raise money to pay down this debt 2.) Getting a side hustle or second job (even bartending/serving once a week or since you’re in grad school tutoring could be an option). 3.) Austerity. Never go out to eat without a coupon. Don’t buy anything for your own pleasure unless it comes from “found” money – gifts, revenue from a second income, etc, cut down on grocery costs as much as possible, walk more if you can. Paying 600$ a month or taking the 25% interest rate that card likely has would be a disaster and you’re also unable to save for emergencies like getting sick and missing a lot of work or a major appliance breaking.

    2.) The student loan question is a little thornier because it functionally doesn’t matter until interest starts accruing. Because you already have 20+% (I would encourage you to pay that card faster if possible – because again you wont be able to save for emergencies effectively so your balance may spike at random) of your income committed to paying down a catastrophic debt, once the student loan *does* hit you should pay only the minimum payment. The interest rate will be considerably lower than your credit card. Once the credit card is 0’d out, you can move on to using ~10% of your income to pay off your student loans per month (300$).

    I may go against the grain here but you’re so far down the hole that it’s not worth saving for retirement right now. The 0% interest card and carrying a major expense on it for a while isn’t that bad, but you clearly don’t have the financial resources or the discipline to pay it off and you’re majorly playing with fire until that balance is cleared. It’s lucky you managed to get another 0% offer.

    I would drain your 1,300 and pay down the credit card too. You’re right there. Yes, you’re giving up returns in the future, but if you can’t work for 2 weeks because you randomly break your ankle on some stairs or something (like that happens more frequently than you would think) you’ll wind up paying some ungodly interest rate on 10,000+ of debt and that would decades of potential gains and even further delay your ability to fully commit to saving for retirement.

    Also you’re young so yes, saving now lets compound interest really do its thing, but you’re in grad school, so assuming your future job will pay way better anyways, saving now while standing on a giant banana peel just doesn’t make any sense.

  • anon09290

    I don’t know if you have more credit cards or grammatical errors.

  • [deleted]

    Pay off your debts, pay off your debts

  • No_Personality_7477

    Never not do the match. If your young you could put above the match for a min to take care of somethings.

    Never not do the match

  • b1gb0n312

    Contribute enought to get the entire match amount. That is free money. 100% immediate return on your contribution

  • TribalVictory15

    Alright, stop with the credit card stuff. If you don’t have the money to do something, guess what you do? You do not do that thing and save up money to do it.

    So you owe around 30k in credit card debt? Tackle that absolutely first. Take out a student loan if you have to for your 2500 school stuff. You have to stop spending money on credit cards immediately until all are paid off.

  • TribalVictory15

    at the best case scenario, make sure you get the full match on your 401k from the company, and focus intently on paying off the credit card. DO NOT unless it is life and death charge anything else to the cards. Pay it off and get that clear.

    Putting floors on a credit card was dumb. You have to accept that and move on.

  • SnooSeagulls2490

    You have a year left. Do you have a job lined up? How much will you be making?

    I understand that being a student is hard financially. But a red flag about your life is that you have a lot of CCs for a student and you’re not sure that you could pay them. If this is your MO in life, you’ll never get ahead. I hope all those CCs have 0% APR. Cook at home, limit eating out.

    But since we’re already here, here is what I’d do.
    #1 focus on getting the highest paying job you could post graduation, even better if they give sign on bonus.
    #2 continue you 401k match, that 4% is free money.
    #3 pay what you can on your other debts, to simplify, I prob would pay off 1-2 card and close it.
    #4 transfer the rest of your CC debts into 0% APR card continually until you graduate.
    #5 pay all of your CC debts when you get your first paycheck. Basically focus on paying off debts.

    Also, I hope your name in on the house deed.

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