Student Debt Just Hit One Scary Milestone

"Let's play a game of MILLENNIAL MONOPOLY," begins a recent viral tweet by writer Aaron Gillies. "The rules are simple, you start with no money, you can't afford anything, the board is on fire for some reason, and everything is your fault."

It's hard not feel like this is literal when you look at the most recent numbers for outstanding American student debt. The Federal Reserve just announced that in the first quarter of 2018, we surpassed $1.5 trillion in unpaid loans. In fact, as of September, our student debt load was bigger than our annual median income.

There's no question that debt is fundamentally shaping our experience of adulthood. In addition to our education-related spending, the average millennial carries more than $3,500 in credit card debt. Overall, that number for Americans tops $1 trillion. Debt loads don't just bog down our wallets, our savings accounts, and our credit score — it's also a psychic weight for many of us, which can affect our health and our standard of living.

If all that isn't enough of a downer, the federal government might pick a fight with states about how governments are allowed to protect people with student loans. It's easy to feel paralyzed and hopeless about the situation, but it's not impossible to face. Even if it sounds quixotic, experts suggest finding ways to turn your debt payment plans into a game. You're allowed to dread your debt load, but you're far more likely to consistently pay it down if you create some rewards for yourself along the way.