Friday, April 10, 2009

Styles of Paying Off Your Bills

There are different styles that the "Personal Finance Gurus" use to tell us how to get debt free.

For instance, someone like Dave Ramsey recommends that you pay off the smallest balance first, regardless of the interest rate on your debt. Others recommend concentrating on the largest interest rate, while still others suggest concentrating on the highest interest rate, yet making larger payments on ALL the debt.

Wow. Polar opposites, in some cases.

So- do you need that quicker gratification of having a debt paid off quickly? Do you want to keep reminding yourself that while the debt is slowly shrinking, you're removing the biggest source of interest first. Or do you want to feel happy that all the bills are shrinking, even though more slowly?

You have to pay the minimum on all the bills, regardless. We try to add in a little money on all the debt (Car, Tim's student loans, etc.). Tim and I decided that the best plan for us was to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible. I was lucky in that at my first job out of college, I made good money. Rather than putting a lot of it in to savings, I made massive monthly payments on my education. Even though the minimum payment required was only $88 a month, I knocked it out extremely quickly- and it feels GOOD. We divided that $100 (because that's always the minimum I paid) up among the other debts.

So, what's going to help you the most? No one is right or wrong. Read one book, get one opinion. Read another book, get another one. Remember, Personal Finance is just that- your *personal* finance. If you don't follow Dave Ramsey's plan, don't worry about it! We're sure not. However, we took away a few good tips from his book ( I borrowed it from a family member when I was bored).

For instance, have $1000 in savings, which is enough to take care of most small emergencies, then take care of debt instead. I didn't take away the part where he starts advising selling off everything that is not absolutely essential to survival, in order to make bill payments. In my mind, our debt was not extreme enough to justify a complete purging of things that I consider to increase our quality of life. I have looked around the house and moved out a few books, movies, and "junk" items though.

So what is your style of paying off your bills? Sit down and think it out. :)