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Paying your student loan is no fun. Every month, money that could’ve been used towards regular expenses, investments or feel-good purchases is pulled away from your account.

But is there a right amount of money to allocate towards your loans? Is it best to pay them off as quickly as possible?

Two years ago, I wrote about how some younger folks were using low interest rates as an opportunity to divert more of their money to investing, rather than paying off their government student loans quickly.

Higher interest rates have made many people prioritize debt payments, but Evan Parubets, investor specialist at Steadyhand Investments, says the situation could be different for student loans.

That’s because the federal portion of student loans are staying interest-free.

In my scenario, the Ontario portion of my loan - which currently has a 7.45 per cent interest rate - makes up less than 14 per cent of my overall balance, and so the vast majority of the loan is indeed interest free.

If your situation is similar to mine, then Mr. Parubets says you might want to focus on building your investment portfolio through a TFSA, or through an RRSP for the tax incentives.

Investing while young is about building discipline, according to Mr. Parubets. So if you were putting $500 per month towards your loan payments and want to drop your payment to $200, don’t spend the leftover willy-nilly. Put that $300 into long-term investments and you’ll be setting good habits for yourself.

However, if a large portion of your loan was given by your province, Mr. Parubets says it’s worth tackling your debt first. The Ontario interest rate of 7.45 per cent is a hard target to outperform through investments.

Lastly, consider paying off the provincial portion of your loan in lump sums to avoid interest altogether. One Reddit user found that this was only possible by mailing in cheques with a letter explaining his plan. For them, the extra effort was worth it, and Mr. Parubets says it’s worth inquiring with the National Student Loans Service Centre about similar action.

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Salmaan’s personal finance reading list

Could a ‘no-buy challenge’ be the financial reset you need?

Social media influencers are pushing a “no-buy” trend akin to a crash diet or six-week workout plan. Essentially, participants commit to spending only on essential purchases for a month. But personal finance experts say it could be as ineffective as a short-term diet unless you go in with the right goals and mindset.

How egg prices soared in the US

Avian flu outbreaks have been wreaking havoc for U.S. chicken farmers. This article by The Guardian describes how Americans ended up with a 60 per cent year-over-year increase for the price of eggs.

How to use every dollar of your job benefits

This VICE article may be a couple years old, but maxing out your benefits is always a relevant topic. And hey, what better time to think about it than in the new year when your benefits renew?

Tips to save at the grocery store

Grocery shopping is one part of life where inflation feels unavoidable. While shopping at your grocery store is better for your finances than eating out, you won’t get the maximum benefit without planning properly. Here are some tips to make grocery shopping a bit more affordable.

This week’s poll

Question: Has your household spending returned to pre-pandemic levels?

  1. I am 100% back to normal spending levels
  2. I am mostly back to normal; spending a little more
  3. I am mostly back to normal; spending a little less
  4. I am still saving a bunch

Vote here. Watch for the results in an upcoming newsletter.

Are you a short-term contract worker who learned financial lessons the hard way?

I’m writing about the financial lives of people who take lucrative contract jobs such as those on oil rigs or pipeline building. How did you create a solid financial future for yourself when paycheques come infrequently but in large sums? Did you make mistakes along the way, such as overspending on big ticket items? Email me at if you have insight to share.

Today’s financial tool

Should you pay down debt now or build your investment portfolio? This tool can help pinpoint the best path for you.

The money-free zone

In the winter, when I’m not thinking about work or money, I’m thinking about snowboarding. Take a look at this short video of pro snowboarders practicing on the big air jump ahead of the X Games in Colorado this week. As a photographer, I’m most in awe of the cameraperson flying just centimetres away from some of the pros to get the best video angle.


What I’ve been writing about
  • You may have noticed an influx of headlines around real estate fraud where a fake homeowner sells a home out from underneath the real owner. I’m currently writing about how that form of crime has become much more common since the pandemic. Has this sort of fraud ever impacted you? Get in touch at if so.
  • It’s easy to daydream about buying undeveloped land and building a perfect custom home. If that could be in your future, here are some tips to keep that dream from becoming a nightmare.
  • Crypto is experiencing a bump in the new year, with some assets up around 30 per cent. Last years dismal performances by Bitcoin and Ether may have made traditional investors smug, but those backing cryptocurrencies are still believers.

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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