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Ask Dave

Retirement Delayed

Michelle and her husband owe $300,000 in student loans. She's worried about retirement since she's 37 years old. Should she start saving for retirement while paying off the debt?

QUESTION: Michelle in Washington, D.C., and her husband owe $300,000 in student loans. Their debt-free date is 10 years away, and she’s worried about retirement since she’s 37 years old. Should she start saving for retirement while paying off the debt?

ANSWER: No. I hope you’ve got an income to match $300,000 in student loan debt. If you spend that kind of money on your education, I hope you learned something that’s valuable in the marketplace. I think you have an income problem in ratio to your debt anyway.

If you wait 10 years and start saving at 47, will you be okay? Yes, you’ll be okay. You would not be as okay as if you started saving five years sooner because you increased your income and cleaned up this mess even faster. I think that’s the thing you’ve got to face and have to look toward there before you do anything else. That’s a big part of this.

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