Paying Down Student Debt: Is It Best to Barrel Through?

Paying Down Student Debt |


Hey Anna,

My question is about balancing saving, spending, and debt repayment. I struggle with deciding how much to spend on myself and things I enjoy, and how much to save when I have student debt I want gone. I’ve got $22K in student loans (no other debt), $5K in emergency savings, and $32K in retirement accounts. I feel rather safe with my current savings levels, but am considering stopping retirement contributions for a year as I won’t have an employer match for that amount of time. But is this wise?

On the spending side, I do not want to burn out. I’m projecting paying off the debt completely in 1.5 years, which isn’t a long amount of time, but I’m 25 and I want to live life — travel, eat at yummy restaurants, explore my city, take yoga teacher training, etc. What would you recommend? Right now, I’m trying to only spend $200 per month on non essentials, but even that feels low (some months, other months I’ve got crazy motivation to kill the debt). How do I find balance? Do I just keep my head down for a year and a half and get it done?

How would you attack this?

Balance or Not?


Hi BN,

First, I have to say that the Spending Fast is not about balance, at all. Since I was able to eliminate my debt super quickly by doing a Spending Fast that is the method I endorse. That being said, what I would do is bust through that debt ASAP. That means I’d crank up on paying off the debt. (Yes, I’d back off on the retirement contributions since your employer isn’t matching), and get yourself out of debt ASAP. Then, when you’re travelling around the world, or when you’re in your yoga teacher training, you’ll be able to fully enjoy yourself and be present because you won’t have that debt monkey hanging off your back!

Get out of debt as quick as humanely possible. That will give you a super-solid foundation going forward, and then you can get on with your life!

– Anna

What are your thoughts? For those of you who have done the Spending Fast do you think there is a way to have balance while doing the fast?

If you’d like me to answer a question for you here on the blog send me an email with your question to: In the subject line please write: Reader Question. I’ll change all identifying info so no one will know it’s you but me and you. I most likely won’t be able to answer every single question but I’ll try to let you know ASAP if your question will be getting selected for inclusion in a post.

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


3 thoughts on “Paying Down Student Debt: Is It Best to Barrel Through?

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  1. Lauren

    $32k is a lot to have in retirement at 25 years old! I would definitely pause contributions to those accounts so that you can speed up paying down your debt.

  2. Phil Danley

    How much spending could you reduce to pay off the student loans? Sounds like you could knock them out in less than a year if you trimmed some travel. Not all, just some!

    I reduced my 401(k) contributions for 4 years to pay off our debts and ultimately our mortgage. Then we’ve been able to max the 401(k) out ever since. My feeling was the markets will go up and down but those debt interest rates never do until the balance is zero!

    Good luck and congrats on where you’ve already gotten to with your savings!!


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