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You graduated—or left—college and are more than a decade into adulting, which means you’ve been working and living your best life. Your money should be better than ever, right?

Unfortunately, exactly the opposite is true for a lot of  twenty and thirtysomethings. Nowadays, student loans are more like a mortgage than a credit card bill. According to Fortune, many millennials earn significantly less than the national average annual income of $40,356. Lower incomes mean less money to pay non-essential bills (think everything after food and shelter).  And for African-Americans, one major bill that’s getting the shaft—and likely mucking up credit scores—is student loans. A recent report revealed that a decade after taking out loans, Black college attendees are more likely to owe more in student loan debt than the amount originally borrowed. Why? Because when money is tight, ignoring your debt or signing up for a forbearance (a delay in payment) seems like the only thing to do. Unfortunately, either decision creates the same result: more interest.

Many student loans are already structured in a way where repayments are applied in a larger percentage of the loan’s calculated interest before hitting the principle (mortgages are structured similarly). Delaying any payment at all just has a snowball effect, which means the debt gets substantially bigger because you’re paying interest on interest. The solution isn’t fair. In order to get out of the shackles of debt you have to completely rethink the lies you were sold about adulthood and tackle all of your justifications for “delaying” payment, like…


You’re Broke AF

Folks have been told that college debt is an investment, and by the time the realization that all schools, degrees and careers are not created equally hits,  it’s way too late. Now, you’re stuck with a bill that’s such a significant portion of your income that you’re kicking yourself for the not-so-savvy decision to finance your education instead of going to a cheaper school. There’s no easy win here. The only clear answer is to buckle down on a new strategy to earn extra income.

You Didn’t Make it to Graduation

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40 percent of students who enroll in college end up dropping out—that doesn’t negate the fact that you have to pay what you owe. Financial institutions don’t erase the debt. Whether you’re delaying payments because you “plan to go back…eventually” or decided to move the debt to the bottom of your priority list, it exists. Handle it.

You’re Waiting for That Raise

News flash: Only about 50 percent of Americans received raises this year. The same Bankrate poll also reveals that many folks increase their pay by getting new jobs. While positioning yourself to receive an increase in pay, or better gig, is wise, you can’t bet on it. That means you have to figure out a plan with the funds you currently earn.

You Want to Live Your Best Life, Now

You want to brunch, travel and party while you’re young. Sending $200-$1000 away a month will definitely change your options, but if you don’t pay some money now, you’ll be paying a lot more money later. And you know what’s worst than missing a trip? Not qualifying for the house you want because your debt-to-income ratio is too high.


You’re Expecting a Windfall

You don’t want your pops to die… but you know you’re getting at least $50K when it happens. Once you get married you’ll have two salaries and more disposable income. You’re working on a big project that will definitely get you a bonus…eventually. Whatever the big pay day may be, you can only guarantee the money that’s in your hand. What’s next?