Paying Off Debt

Should You Pay Off Debt Fast? (Maybe Not.)

September 5, 2023
You probably think that you need to pay off debt fast, but that's not always true. Here are some tips for your debt management strategy.
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Britt & Laurie Anne
Two female investors in their 30s with a collective net wealth of over $6 million+
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True or false: you should pay off debt fast.

Your first instinct is probably to say, “true,” right? After all, that’s what we’re usually taught: all debt is a burden, ruining your financial security, and you need to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

But actually, that’s not true.

Debt is a complex subject, and learning how to effectively manage debt in a way that aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals is an essential aspect of personal finance.

As a money coach, one question I hear a lot is, "How fast should I pay off different types of debt?"

Well, the answer varies depending on the type of debt, interest rates, financial goals, and personal circumstances.

How Fast Should I Pay Off Different Types of Debt?

Here are some general guidelines to help you prioritize and strategize your debt repayment journey.

1) Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt tends to carry high interest rates, making it crucial to prioritize paying it off quickly. The interest charges can accumulate rapidly, significantly increasing the overall debt burden. This makes it much harder to pay off debt.

Start by making minimum payments on all your debts, while allocating any additional funds to tackle your credit card debt aggressively.

Consider strategies like the debt avalanche method, where you focus on paying off the highest interest rate debt first while making minimum payments on the others.

Or better yet, the intelligent snowball method, which is when you pay off one of your smaller debts, then tackle high-interest debt.

2) Student Loans

Student loans are often a significant financial obligation for many individuals. However, they usually come with lower interest rates compared to credit card debt.

Depending on the interest rate and loan terms, it may be more beneficial to focus on building an emergency fund or investing in retirement accounts while making regular payments on your student loans.

That said, with any debt, it's essential to strike a balance between investing and debt repayment to avoid unnecessary interest accrual.

3) Mortgage

A mortgage is a long-term debt with relatively lower interest rates compared to credit cards or personal loans. It is often considered "good debt" due to the potential for property value appreciation and tax advantages.

Paying off your mortgage quickly may not be a top priority for everyone, especially if you have a low-interest rate. Instead, it might be more beneficial to focus on building an emergency fund, investing for retirement, or paying off higher-interest debt before accelerating mortgage payments.

However, if you’re in a good financial position and prefer the peace of mind that comes with owning your home outright, consider making extra principal payments or exploring bi-weekly payment options.

4) Car Loans

Car loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards but higher rates than mortgages or student loans. When it comes to paying off car loans, it's crucial to strike a balance between other financial goals and your desire to be debt-free.

Evaluate the interest rate, loan term, and monthly payment. If the interest rate is high (i.e., above 7%), it may be wise to prioritize paying it off sooner.

Alternatively, if the interest rate is reasonable and fits within your budget, you might focus on other financial goals.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to debt repayment, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The speed at which you should pay off different types of debt depends on various factors, including interest rates, financial goals, and personal circumstances.

Remember to strike a balance between debt repayment and other financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or investing for the future. Ultimately, a well-thought-out debt repayment plan tailored to your situation will help you regain financial control and pave the way for a more secure and debt-free future.

And if you want to set yourself up for the best financial future, be sure to check out our free masterclass! In it, we give you our signature three-step method for managing your money in a way that feels good for you.

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