Dave Ramsey is a businessman who has been published and featured on top media outlets. Ramsey runs an advice column for finances and was posed the question, should I keep slowly paying off my loans and buy a new car or split the lump sum I have in half to make a dent in the loans and get a decent car?
Being an adult is making decisions. It is prioritizing numerous daily tasks and assessing which needs immediate attention and what can wait until tomorrow. There is never enough time in the day unless you don’t sleep and I wouldn’t recommend that. Sometimes it’s hard to weigh whether one thing over the other and figure out which is the most important as both can be important but cannot both be solved simultaneously.
Sometimes it comes down to what debt is more important to pay off first or which two basic life needs do I address first. An example that has been circulating lately has been a question to Dave Ramsey on whether to buy a car or pay off their student loan debt.
In the example given, a man named Phil in his late 30s saved up the $12,000 to pay off his entire student loan debt. However, he is driving around a beat-up, old car that will need to be replaced soon. He asked if he should split his savings, 50-50 between the car and student loans.
Ultimately, the answer given was to keep an emergency fund of $1,000 and to use the remaining $11,000 to go toward student loans. Phil only makes $30,000 a year and from the sounds of it, struggles to save money. I agree with setting aside money for emergencies, however, spending the rest of the money on all student loans doesn’t seem like the most ideal play for Phil.
The $12,000 is Phil’s only debt. Being rid of it would be huge, but he can still pay off a large portion and live comfortably. Life is about making decisions, prioritizing, and when you can make the choice that can bring you the most happiness.
If Phil’s car is going to break down soon, he should treat himself to a car. If you put $1,000 in the bank for an emergency. Maybe spend $2,000-$3,000 on a car that will last and put the remaining $7,000 or $8,000 into your student debt.
Of course, if you’re in this situation and don’t have the luxury of having the saving to deal with it all there are other options in place for you to progress in life. There is always an option to put your loans under a forbearance or deferment until you get your finances in order or look into an income-driven repayment plan. An income-driven repayment plan will set you on course for loan forgiveness while lowering your monthly payments.
Even as an adult you’ll have to do your homework. Figure out the best approach, and prioritize your to-do list. If you can’t prioritize one over the other, then look for a compromise that will satisfy both tasks with a satisfactory outcome. Just like Phil and his problem of getting a new car or paying off his student debt or both.
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