Harris, I think it depends on several factors. First, I recommend having a well established emergency fund that will be enough to cover several months living expenses. This will help you cover any unexpected expenses and avoid taking out additional debt. Next consider other short/medium term goals. For example, are you saving to buy a house, do you need to replace your car in the next two or three years, etc. Finally, consider the interest rates of your student loans and what you may be able to earn in an IRA and decide which option is best for your needs. Investing for retirement now could be a huge benefit for you and your wife when you reach retirement age, but eliminating debt increases cash flow and gives you peace of mind. Both options are solid. Best of luck.
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If you don’t live in a bottle deposit state, you can still cash in on recyclables by selling scrap metal. You may not have enough soda or beer cans lying around to make this worthwhile — and steel prices are so low right now, it’s not really worth the bother to go collecting them. But if you do have a lot of aluminum cans on hand, or if you have any scrap metal with copper in it, find a local recycling center and see what you’ll get (prices vary wildly by market). Still, unless you have a lot of copper pipes lying around the garage, or bags and bags and bags of old soda cans, realistically, we’re probably talking about getting $5 to $20 back.