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How to save for retirement and pay your student loans at the same time

How to save for retirement and pay your student loans at the same time
How to save for retirement and pay your student loans at the same time

Saving for retirement sounds impossible if you're loaded down with student loan debt, but it doesn't have to be.

The average student loan debt in the U.S. is $32,731, according to ValuePenguin, a personal finance website.

In comparison, millennial workers have a median of $23,000 saved in all retirement accounts, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

A budgeting tip known as the "50-20-30 rule" allows you to split your paycheck and work toward crushing multiple financial goals, said Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner and CEO of Financially Wise in Los Angeles.

"See how much you can realistically start investing for your future while still working on debt reduction and building cash," she said.

Under the 50-20-30 rule, half of your after-tax pay goes toward fixed expenses, such as your rent or mortgage and utilities.

Twenty percent goes into savings, including building your emergency fund and debt repayment.

The remaining 30% can go toward discretionary spending, including your hobbies and other fun expenses.

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"A lot of people look at the 20% [savings goal] and say, 'That's never going to happen; I don't make enough money,'" said Castro.

Don't underestimate the power of small changes in your savings patterns.

Start by putting away a small amount regularly. Increase that amount over time as you gain control over your costs and as your salary rises.

"Even if you can only set aside 1%, that's still the goal," said Castro.

"The idea is that you start the system and then work toward increasing that number based on changes to your income and expenses," she said.

Be sure to grab any free money that's available to you at work. Put away at least enough of your pretax salary into your 401(k) plan to qualify for the match.

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