MML Alex: Investing While In Debt

Written by
Alex Eaton
MML- Alex

There is a lot of balancing going on in my life right now, both financially and otherwise. I'm learning the lay of the land working a full-time job for more than just three months. My sister is going back to college, which means for the first time I will be an only child at home with my parents. It feels pretty messed up to be honest. Everything is going great, yet my mind is telling me all of this is wrong. But not to worry, all I have to do to fix that side of my mind is take a look at my student loan balance. Problem solved!

Along with aggressively paying student loans and saving for a car, I've decided to start investing a very small amount on the side. I rounded off my payments and savings leaving me with about $50 a month in extra cash. I figure why not? They always say early money is the best money, give it time to grow. I'm already very aggressive towards my obligations, so I don't really believe I'm missing out on a ton right now. Yes, $50 a month adds up. But it also adds up in my investment account.

Since I made the decision to open the account and put money in, I've often wondered why it didn't bother me to be taking money from other useful sources. My first inclination is investing is fun. It interests me to learn about where my money is going and to log in to see if my portfolio has gone up at all. I'm using a roboadvisor, so I'm not actually making the investment decisions. I figure its a safer way to have growth in mind, without having to risk it all because of a severe lack of knowledge. I would have zero clue what to do if I was investing money myself right now. Down the road I could see myself learning about it and dabbling for myself, but it isn't high on the priority list when these resources are available.

There is a lot of guilt tied to you when you are in debt. At least thats the way I've been feeling. Every time I spend money on something else, especially when it's to have fun, a voice in the back of my head scolds me. It's a feeling of judgment, but it comes direct from the source. Yes, I could lower my food/groceries/social budget category by probably $50 a month. Include that with the money I've decided to invest and there is $100 every month! But I'd be scraping by, and honestly I don't feel that desperate. I feel like I can have a bit of money to let myself have some fun while staying super aggressive with my loans. Remember my goal is three years for paying those, and so far I think I'm on track. I'll be reevaluating what the timeline will require once my grace period ends, but I'm doing some serious damage to my accrued interest right now which is awesome.

Money is a completely mental game, and maybe I'm starting to believe that unless it is absolutely vital to spend every single penny towards your debt, then sometimes using a little cash to keep yourself sane is a smart move. By investing I'm being productive with part of it too. At least that is how I'll explain it away to you guys. And the other half? Well, yeah. It's probably going to beer.

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