Should you pay off your student loans before investing? While paying off your student loans is quite an accomplishment, it will not help you pay for groceries when you hit your retirement age. Planning ahead to reduce student loan debt and maximizing investments is essential the minute you start that first job out of college.

Here are five ways to keep investing while still paying off your student loans.

Focus on Big Picture

Too many new employees focus on the student loan liability and not their big financial picture. Increase the size of your financial assets. Simply investing 10 to 15 percent of your income at 25 will get you closer to a million dollars in retirement than if waited ten years until your student loan is paid off.

Pay Student Loan Minimum

Only make the minimum payment on your student loan. This frees up some of your hard earned income for investments. Be sure to check all options to lower your monthly payment in order to free up funds. This rule is especially true if you should qualify for PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) or IDR (Income Driven Repayment. It makes no financial sense to pay extra on a loan that will soon be forgiven.

Exception To Rule

If the interest on your student loan is more than five percent, then consider more options. One option is to pay extra on your student loans. This could mean taking on an extra job and making double payments each month. Those with a credit score over 600 can consider the second option of applying for refinancing. Lowering your interest can help you save money on your overall student loan burden and increase your tax-free investments.

Annuity Investment

Include an annuity investment as part of your savings plan. Annuities are a lifelong investment that will eventually pay you. Annuities are a good investment for your retirement, especially when planning long term care. Annuities are customizable and can give your retirement planning many options.

401K Match

The number one minimum rule in investing is to invest at least as much as your company matches. If you do not maximize those matches, you are throwing away free money. This means if your company offers to match at five percent, and perhaps even offers a smaller match beyond that to 10 percent, you should invest 10 percent of your salary. Take advantage of every single dollar match. This is how you maximize your investment opportunity.