In this week’s episode of Money Confidential, host Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez and financial expert Lynette Khalfani-Cox advise a woman struggling to pay off more than $100,000 in student loan debt.

By Real Simple Editors
April 12, 2021

Real Simple's Money Confidential podcast helps people bring their money issues out into the open, so they can start on the path toward solving them. On this week's episode, host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez helps Elaine (not her real name) deal with a financial issue so many people are struggling with right now—a huge student loan debt.

Elaine took out more than $100,000 in student loans to help finance her education nearly a decade ago. Even though she's made a significant dent in what she owes, she still feels like the loan is keeping her from moving forward into the future, including goals like buying a house, having kids, or putting money away for retirement.

So how should Elaine balance paying down debt with achieving the goals she has for the future? For a little guidance, O'Connell Rodriguez turns to financial expert Lynette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach and author of Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.

Khalfani-Cox recommends taking a deep breath—and then checking in with your lenders to determine the total debt amount. "Some people have no idea how much they owe," she says. Then, see what kinds of repayment options you have that could fit with your current budget, whether it's starting small now and ramping up as you earn more income, or sticking with the typical 10-year repayment schedule.

And Khalfani-Cox recommends you don't wait to pursue your financial goals for the future, such as saving for a house, having a baby, or saving for retirement. Waiting for those things until you pay off student loans could keep you from reaching those milestones down the line.

Listen to this week's Money Confidential—How to Deal With Your Student Loan Debt—for Khalfani-Cox and O'Connell Rodriguez's tips for getting a handle on student debt. Money Confidential is available on Apple podcastsAmazonSpotifyStitcherPlayer FM, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.