15 Women On What They’d Do With Their $$ If They Didn’t Have Student Loans

As of this year, more than 44 million Americans owe a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. And of these borrowers, more than 16.8 million are under age 30.

Despite their relative financial optimism, millennials are shouldering a lot of debt, the reality of which can be overwhelming. So it’s important to know the facts, debunk the myths, and come up with a repayment plan.

A good education is something worth going into some debt for, but it’s hard not to wonder how our finances would be different if we didn’t have that burden. (Not to mention it’s important to think about for when we’re finally done paying them off.) Let’s say you didn’t have a monthly student loan payment — where would you be putting that money instead Would you invest it, throw it in a vacation fund, buy that bag you’ve been eyeing, or save it for a rainy day? Read ahead to see what 15 of our readers had to say.

Name: Noel
Age: 28
Location: San Francisco, CA
Job Title: Operations Manager
Salary: $70,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $300

“I’d use it to pay off more of my credit card debt. I’ve managed to rack up close to $10,000 in credit card debt in my 20s. While I have finally started to chip away at it, the interest is overwhelming. I’ve also noticed that the more money I make, the more things I find to spend it on.”

Name: Anaïs
Age: 26
Location: Oakland, CA
Job Title: Senior Product Designer
Salary: $111,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $280

“I would invest it. Either by contributing more to my retirement savings or by saving to buy a rental property.”

Name: Hayley
Age: 23
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Job Title: Event Coordinator
Salary: $38,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $220

“I would use the extra funds and sign up for a monthly membership to a pole dancing studio. I’ve wanted to start dancing to gain more confidence, express myself, and have a fun way to get fit, but monthly memberships are kind of pricey when I have other financial obligations to meet first.”

Name: McKenzie
Age: 24
Location: Arlington, VA
Job Title: Program Coordinator
Salary: $52,500
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $100

“I’d put it in my savings! I really want to buy a condo in the next few years, and that would get me $1,200 closer per year, in addition to what I already save. I also really want a puppy…so maybe first it would go to adoption fees and dog food.”

Name: Neah
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Job Title: Marketing Director
Salary: $ 46,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $80

“I’d spend it on myself honestly, maybe a monthly mani/pedi… one of the things I don’t get to do very often after having a baby.”

Name: Krissy
Age: 32
Location: Arlington, VA
Job Title: Client Accounting Analyst
Salary: $60,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $ 1,238 ($638 required plus $600 extra)

“Retirement, a six months emergency fund, a mortgage, a baby.”

Name: Rachel
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Job Title: Social & Digital Media Manager
Salary: $95,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $420.57

“I would definitely SAVE more — whether it be directly into a savings account, 401(k), Roth IRA, etc. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognize the importance of having a savings account with padding, whether it’s for an emergency move (which I recently had to do), a treat yourself gift, or a vacation fund. If I didn’t have my loans, I think my initial priority would be to set myself up for financial stability and success in the future. Once that was settled and taken care of, I imagine I’d spend money on more frivolous things like workout classes, more meals and drinks out, charity donations, and hosting parties/events. (I love to have people over and would love to do it even more often.)”

Name: Taylor
Age: 26
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Job Title: Cartographer
Salary: $55,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $200

“I would invest it and then use that to hopefully buy a house some day soon. My dogs need a backyard not a small studio.”

Name: Jamethiel
Age: 29
Location: Portland, OR
Job Title: Administrative Assistant
Salary: $43,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $220

“A horse lease (like leasing a car, but a horse!), a new commuter car or investments!”

Name: Jessica
Age: 30
Location: Birmingham, AL
Job Title: Director of Marketing and Product
Salary: $50,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $1,100

“If I didn’t have student loans I would live an overall better life! I would do more with my baby girl, go on more dates with my husband, and not stress every single time we made a purchase. Our goal is to give our daughter and soon-to-be son every experience we did and didn’t have, which seems impossible at this moment!”

Name: Merissa
Age: 26
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Job Title: Research Assistant
Salary: $37,500
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $150

“In total, I have $85,000 in student loans from undergrad and grad school. If I could use this money towards something else, it would be to avoid all the credit card debt I’m still trying to get a handle on. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year and ended up putting most of my medical bills on credit cards. Although I am proud to say I have been in remission since November, I am incredibly ashamed of my financial situation. Also, I would spend the money on being able to have a wedding. My husband and I got married at the courthouse a few months ago and had to forego any kind of ceremony or reception due to both of our massive student loans.”

Name: Karla
Age: 32
Location: Chicago, IL
Job Title: Diversity & Inclusion Manager
Salary: $88,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $650

“I would put 25% into an additional high-interest savings account. The other 75% I would use as a travel/restaurant fund. I would love to visit places I’ve saved photos of and choose a Michelin Star restaurant in each location to make my taste buds dance!”

Name: Kendra
Age: 38
Location: Portland, OR
Job Title: Teacher
Salary: $76,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $200 (I’m on a graduated income repayment plan that I don’t think is offered anymore.)

“I’d save for new floors for my house or a kitchen remodel, or travel. I have an eight- and six-year-old and we try to take a fun out-of-state trip every summer. Also, a new car — mine is 13 years old and I’m grateful it’s been reliable, but I worry about it.”

Name: Kaitlyn
Age: 30
Location: Bay Area, CA
Job Title: Attorney
Salary: $150,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $1,008

“A house! We live just north of San Francisco, where housing is expensive, but we could afford it if I wasn’t paying so much money towards student loans. $1,008 is only my minimum payment — we probably pay closer to $2,000 per month, which is like renting a whole second apartment! Even with paying so much towards my loans, we’ll be paying these off forever. Also, I’m 30 and my partner is 31 — and we’ve definitely put off starting a family because of my massive student loan debt. We have zero savings because we’re just throwing everything extra we have at my student loans trying to pay them down as quickly as we can.

Name: Carla
Age: 29
Location: Chicago, IL
Job Title: Mental Health Therapist
Salary: $50,000
Monthly Student Loan Payment: $366.08

“Vacation (self-care), clothes, and at least $100 toward personal savings.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

I Make $135,000 & Love My Job, But Wish I'd Taken A Break To Travel

These Couples Are Putting Off Marriage Because Of Student Loan Debt

A Week In Rapid City, SD, On A $41,600 Salary