• Looking at Debt Repayment as an Investment

    Quite often on The Simple Dollar, I’ll mention the advantages of getting your debt paid down. For most debts, paying them down is the best thing you can do with your money, provided that you have a small emergency fund set up to protect yourself against the unforeseen and at least some retirement savings. As …

  • The Single Biggest Money Mistake I’ve Ever Made

    The single biggest money mistake I’ve ever made was the day I decided that my future self would pay for stuff that I wanted (not needed, but wanted) now. The amazing part is that I remember it like it was yesterday. I was twenty years old and a junior in college. I had taken the …

  • Should You “Debt Snowball” Directly into a Savings Account Instead of a Debt Payment?

    The idea of debt snowballing is a popular one: it pushes you to get rid of your debts and get on a financially stable playing field, plus it encourages you to behave in a frugal fashion because you’re setting aside such a large, steady block of money each month to eliminate those debts. What’s a …

  • Got Credit Card Debt? Ten Tactics to Use Right Now to Get It Under Control

    Jon writes in: I have a bunch of credit card debt spread across several different cards and I’m having a hard time getting started paying them off. You’ve offered a lot of little solutions for debt removal, but I need a plan I can execute to deal with these credit cards. How can I get …

  • The Debtor’s Toolkit: Twelve Effective Tactics to Use When Tackling Debt

    Almost every day, someone writes to me with intimate details about their debt situation. Some of them are pretty mild and can easily be taken care of with a little bit of elbow grease – others are horrifying and will take some very serious attention to manage. In either situation, the principles for getting rid …

  • A Portfolio of Credit Cards for Specific Purchases?

    Jenelle wrote in recently and described her way of using credit cards: Unlike your advice to minimize your credit cards, I actually have eight open credit cards that I use all the time. These cards cover all of my purchases but each one has a particular bonus program that I can take specific advantage of. …

  • How Big Should My Car Down Payment Be?

    Jimmie wrote in with a good question over the weekend: I’m going to buy a new car in several months and I’m trying to figure out how much down payment I should have. I’ve heard tons of different answers from different people. What’s your take? My initial take was to give this an off-the-cuff response …

  • You Can Do This

    About two years ago, I had almost $17,000 in credit card debt. That added up to about a third of my salary at the time, and the minimum payments were more than my rent. Most months, my paycheck was gone before I would even see it, swallowed up by credit card payments, a rent payment, …

  • Investing Versus Paying Ahead on Your Mortgage: Which Makes More Sense?

    Recently, I mentioned a Consumer Reports article that encouraged people to invest instead of paying ahead on their mortgage. It left me thinking quite a bit about debt repayment and how I should handle my mortgage. Our situation My wife and I are planning on eliminating our student loans in the next year to a …

  • Is An All-Cash Lifestyle Useful For Kicking The Debt Habit?

    One common tactic adopted by people who are in severe financial straits is an all-cash lifestyle. They tear up all of their credit cards and move strictly to a cash-based personal finance plan, cashing each check and living strictly off of that money. I personally feel that this is a good immediate response to the …

  • Should I Pay Off My Low-Interest Debts Early or Begin Investing?

    This week, The Simple Dollar attempts to address challenging questions in personal finance by looking at both sides of the story and figuring out some of the factors you need to look at to make a decision. Most homeowners are in the process of paying off a large mortgage, one which requires a large payment …

  • Seven Tips For Avoiding Boredom During A Financial Turnaround

    One strong undercurrent of sentiment among commenters on this blog is that living a financially sensible lifestyle – spending far less than you earn, investing, not spending money foolishly, and so on – is boring. Incredibly boring, in fact. So boring that I get numerous comments along the lines of “WHY DON’T YOU GET A …

  • A Deeper Look At Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps To Financial Freedom – And How They Apply To Us

    In a recent discussion about why I’m looking at paying off debt in the short term over investing, a reader mentioned Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, which basically encourages everyone to follow these seven steps to financial freedom: 1. $1,000 to start an emergency fund 2. Pay off all debt (except the home) …

  • Why I’ve Decided To Focus Personally on Debt Freedom over Investing (For Now)

    Over the last few weeks, my wife and I have taken some serious looks at our overall financial state, our happiness with our current lifestyle, and whether or not one of us wants to become a stay-at-home parent. Although we’ve not reached a consensus on all of these issues, we have agreed on one fundamental …

  • The One Hour Project: Construct Your Debt Snowball (Or Something Like It)

    This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices. If you’ve gone through even a few of the one hour projects in this series, you likely have some …

  • The Constant Tug: Should I Invest Or Should I Pay Off Debt?

    The one personal finance issue that I debate internally over quite a bit is whether one should pay off debt or invest if all they have are relatively low interest rate debts (7.5% or less, for instance). All of my remaining debts are below 7% and, thanks to careful frugal living, my spending is quite …

  • The One Hour Project: Create A Visual Debt Reminder

    This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices. Keeping your focus on getting out of debt can be a challenge for some people. It’s so incredibly easy …

  • (Just Like) Starting Over

    Over the last day or two, I’ve been going through the piles of email that have built up since the birth of my daughter and found a few stories worth sharing, which I’ll be sharing today and (maybe) tomorrow. Here’s the first one, from Amy: I am thirty years old, college educated, and a certified …

  • Potential Pitfalls For Paying Off Someone Else’s Debt

    I received a really interesting story from a reader named John. He has his financial head in the right place, but some other pieces of his overall life puzzle aren’t quite in alignment. Take it away, John: I am 29 years old and I have just recently started to jump into real estate investing part …