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Smart is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials by Christine Romans

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Chapter 3Managing Debt

All college graduates have an automatic job the minute they receive their diploma: They become their own financial manager. Two-thirds of college graduates finish with some level of student loan debt. Paying it off quickly and aggressively is job one.

Funny thing is, when they borrowed the money for college, most people did not receive much guidance about how to pay it back. Student loan debt can't be forgotten or delayed. It follows you forever. It is rarely forgiven in bankruptcy. If you don't make payments on the loans, it will hurt your credit score and damage your chances of renting an apartment, buying a house, or leasing a car. If you have private student loans, your family could be responsible for them if you die prematurely.

Student loan debt is so permanent, so unforgiving—if you don't pay it off today, the government could someday garnish your Social Security check. Millennials are some four decades away from receiving Social Security, so they may not find this so alarming. But their parents will. In 2013, 156,000 Americans had their Social Security checks garnished because they had outstanding student loans on which they defaulted. That number has more than tripled, from 47,500 in 2006.2

Life only gets more complicated in ...

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