Kara McGuire writes about all things related to personal finance. Follow our coupon clipping, retirement saving, bargain hunting, budget mama as she saves, spends and searches for ways to keep more money in her wallet – and yours.
Does it make more sense to pay down debt faster or to save more? The answer, of course, is that it depends.
If you have a load of high interest credit card debt, I'd save $1,000 for absolute emergencies and then put every spare penny toward that credit card bill.
But what if you have a three-year car loan with a 2.5 percent interest rate, a 15-year mortgage at 4 percent, and a small student loan costing around 3 percent?
The choice isn't nearly as clear.
As for savings, retirement is on autopilot, thanks to payroll deduction to my 401(k), and there's some in emergency savings, but not the three to six months of savings recommended by the pros.
Yes, folks, this is my balance sheet I'm talking about. Whether to save more or pay off debt faster is the dilemma I constantly wrestle with. Despite the very low interest rates carried on my debt, I have the urge to pay it down as quickly as possible.
Because interest rates on savings is currently so low, I know that I'm not losing out on a big return, but it's nice to have cash at the ready. Cash provides flexibility and freedom. Then again, so does being debt free.
Even if the numbers clearly steered me in one direction, I think each of us wrestle with the behavioral and psychological aspects of financial decisions. Sometimes your gut tells you one thing, while the numbers, or the experts, say something else.
Would anyone like to tell me what I should do?
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