It's almost never best to pay it off early.
If you're lucky enough to go into a well paying job, it's the question that should be on your mind. Is it better to just pay the bare minimum interest each month, or should you pay in as much as you can?
I've built a basic model to calculate the answer to that exact question, with space for you to edit (yellow highlighted boxes) to incorporate your own situation.
I've compared what would happen to the total amount paid over the 30 years (until it is written off) if you pay extra money in ('Raw amount saved with early payment' box). I've also included what the financial difference is between doing that and instead putting any additional payments into a savings account at 5% interest rate ('total amount saved inc. opportunity cost' box).
Essentially, it looks like you are nearly always best to just save up and put money into a savings account rather than into paying your student loan off early because of the way in which your money can grow extremely rapidly with compound interest.
Download the spreadsheet to edit it properly!
Low carb brownies
Conventional wisdom argues that fat makes you fat and you should eat less of it and then you won't be fat anymore. Right?
Actually, not quite.
We are facing a paradigm shift in nutrition science and it is increasingly widely acknowledged that fats are not to blame for the fact that more than 2/3 of us are overweight, carbohydrates are.
Your body can store energy in 3 ways:
1kg of fat stores about 7700 calories of energy, so on average we each have many tens or even hundreds of thousands of calories stored up on our hips and waist. Some have in excess of a million (e.g. a 150kg man). In fact, if we assume that you burn roughly 700 calories in a 1 hour jog, that means our 150kg man holding 1,000,000 calories round his waist would have to run for 8 hours continuously for 3 months and not eat anything extra, just to lose half of that fat. Keep on running!
To lose weight, we of course have to reduce those stores of fat. Now, insulin is the hormone of plenty in the body, and amongst its multitude of effects it tells the body to store more fat and acts as a lever switching our bodies to preferentially use glucose as opposed to fat. Not ideal, this is the opposite to what we want if we want to lose weight!
Now consider this, humans evolved for and are built for a life of scarcity. In hunter gatherer times (i.e. 99% of the time homo sapiens have walked the earth), we would have lived a life of fasting and feasting cycles, where days of fasting (aside from a few berries here and there) would be punctuated irregularly with large protein feasts. There certainly wouldn't have been any of these thrice daily, solo gorges on carb heavy meals meant for a family of 4. Romans used to eat 1 meal a day and it wasn't until the 18th century that 3 square meals a day became the norm.
It certainly wasn't until the birth of fast food and on demand donuts over the past century that we have been able to dump what is essentially spoons and spoons of pure sugar into our blood, on demand, day after day. The effect this has, is to massively spike insulin levels, which as we mentioned earlier, causes us to build up bigger and bigger fat stores. Not only does this permanent state of high insulin make us fat, it also gives us diabetes and is thought to play a role in a host of other chronic diseases too.
Now here is the really key point.
Insulin levels are spiked by carbohydrate intake. Fat and protein do not raise insulin levels.
That's not just all those cookies and puddings, it's all that pasta, rice and bread as well.
So, given all of that, doesn't minimising insulin levels by cutting down on carbohydrate intake seem like a reasonable idea? Not only would this reverse the process of storing fat, but it would also switch that lever in our body to force preferential burning of fat and decrease our risk of diabetes.
This is where the ketogenic diet comes out to play.
I am fundamentally certain that the blockchain revolution is here to stay and that we are currently seeing a homologue to the 1995 era beginnings of the internet.
Yes we are in a bubble, yes there is lots of speculation, yes 99% of current cryptoassets will crash and burn, leaving investors in the dust. Bitcoin may or may not be around in 10 years. Maybe one of its competitors (Dash, Ripple, Litcoin, bcash*, Decred, Stellar) will supersede it. Maybe something we've never heard of will come along. Ethereum, NEM, NEO, Cardano? Which will win the fight for the smart contract space? Will it be winner takes all, will any of them survive to 2019? Anyone who says they know is lying or deluded.
What we can know though, is that blockchain as a technology and a concept is here to stay. The bull case for the magical future of a blockchain based cryptopia is made far better elsewhere so I won't make it here. I simply want to remind you that the mainstream media and seasoned experts can be and often are wrong.
I see vast numbers of New York Times and FT opinion pieces slating blockchains for having no use cases (fundamentally untrue: see basic attention token, walton chain, agrello delta, digixdao, filecoin, storj, folding coin, golem and countless others), or how it's all one huge bubble which will crash and leave those silly youngsters hurting and the old boys laughing. The old boys might just be wrong.
Warren Buffet, whilst not often wrong and arguably has the best investing judgement of all humanity, admits he missed out on amazon & google. The 'expert' commentators were wrong on the internet, wrong on AI, and they are wrong on bitcoin and blockchains now. Societal progress goes in waves, whereby each generation brings forth new knowledge, technology and societal norms to be improved upon by successive generations.
If you believe in something, don't let a past-it banker or journalist who has a sparkling reputation tell you your own opinions, research and facts are invalid. They might well be wrong.
Mass media internet commentary from the early 90s is laughable and truly shocking regarding the internet:
'[some] argue that the internet is only a placeholder for a future commercial information network to be built by cable and telephone companies' New York Times 1994
'Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney.' Clifford Stoll in Newsweek, 1995
Marc Andreesen, the subject of the criticism in the first quote created the first internet browser: Mosaic. He's now worth billions and has changed the face of the world; all because he didn't listen to the 'experts' when he was 23.
Trust yourself and your intuitions.
And for what it's worth, Marc is betting on bitcoin bigtime.
*Take that Roger Ver