FIRE.036 Student Loans in Retirement?!

Can you imagine going into early retirement with a student loan payment?

I know we all have different life situations and accomplishments, which is what makes people/life so interesting. We’ve all read about controlling—understanding—your spending before FIRE, so that you lessen the money stress in “retirement.”

We often read about paying off all consumer debt—which often charges a higher interest rate than your retirement assets may earn. We hear that many happy retirees have no mortgage payment—I didn’t say “house” payment because the government, insurance company, utility companies, etc. all want a payment from you.

Your housing expenses are definitely a flexible opportunity related to your cash flow. Some say, “why tie up much of your net worth in a home? If you need cash, you can’t eat your house.” This is why some people rent in retirement.

Being “house rich” is even worse than needing to make a major purchase and having ALL your money in a 401k/IRA. A $10,000 bill paid from a tax-deferred account could conceivably cost you $13,000 even without a youngun penalty (Fed & State taxes). Note: try and keep money in different tax treated accounts for flexibility.

Now on to the seemingly absurd topic in my brain. How could it be someone decides to retire (most likely early/very early) and still have student loans?

This must be a totally different math equation that I’m don’t understand—Of course, Calculus & Trigonometry never made much sense to me except, pass the class and move on.

Is it possible someone has saved enough money working in their career that they can afford to pay for their retirement expenses/lifestyle, yet decided not to pay off their student loans? I’m assuming an early retirement—which would mean a LONG retirement—and the related funding nest-egg to accommodate these many years of normal expenses.

This equation really perplexes me. I’ve come up with a few thoughts:

1) A pay-as-you-earn payment would be low if you earn nothing.

2) a medical retirement—which sucks.

3) maybe the “it will work out, *shrug*” plan.

Get a formal (and flexible) retirement plan from an experienced professional…YEARS before you give your notice. Follow up on your plan over time and sketch out a path for yourself. Do a budget test drive/mock retirement pass for a year or even two. Go into your new life phase with the most certainty possible!

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