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Michael just graduated college and landed a job. His wife is an attorney. They make $86,000 a year. They owe $227,000 in student loans. What's the best way to start getting rid of these loans?

QUESTION: Michael in Tampa and his wife are in their mid-20s. Michael just graduated college and landed a job. His wife is an attorney who graduated law school two years ago. They make $86,000 a year with his new job. They owe $227,000 in student loans. What’s the best way to start getting rid of these loans?

ANSWER: The bad news is that you’ve got a big mountain of student loan debt. The good news is that you guys have really good shovels. Both of you have a real advantage here because you are so fresh out of school that you are used to living on nothing.

Just keep your lifestyle down to nothing. If you determine how much money you want to throw at this debt, plus any raises you get, that puts you out of debt in about three years. But you won’t have any life during those three years.

When you are 24 and you look at $227,000 in debt, it’s heavy. The good news is that you guys have gone out into the marketplace and applied your education and yourselves, and you’ve got some great income. You should grow exponentially on your income in both your fields.

You’re on the right track and doing the right thing. Fight the urge to celebrate too soon. Keep the lifestyle down and don’t spike the ball on the 2-yard line. Spike it in the end zone. It’s tough to have a $200,000 income and be living on $40,000. That’s hard, and people look at you like you’ve lost your mind. But you know you’ve got a plan, a goal and a clearly defined outcome.