So, you are ready to tackle your debt and want to dive right in and get started.
However, there are some basic things to do before paying off your debt.
You may be thinking, why can’t I pay off some debt so I can feel like I did something?
Why You Should Save Before Paying Off Debt
There are several reasons why you should not just jump right into paying off debt, and I will explain why.
I understand how you are feeling; I am the type of person that jumps all into things.
I want to get it over and done with, or I procrastinate until the last minute, and then I’m rushing to finish. Either way, I wish to get it over with.
When I was $45,000 in debt, I knew that I had to save money first. I wanted to jump all into paying off debt, but that wasn’t the wisest thing to do.
If you are ready to pay off debt, you need to save a small emergency fund FIRST. It doesn’t need to be a lot of money either.
It is recommended to save at least $1000 before paying off debt. There are instances that you may need to keep more than that, but you don’t need a fully-funded emergency fund to get started. This is just a small life buffer so that you can focus on paying off debt.
If you want to pay off debt AND stay out of debt, you have to make long-term changes.
That doesn’t happen overnight.
You need to create and develop new habits and work to get out of debt. That is the only way to make real, long-term changes.
Part of making those changes is learning to save money.
The majority of Americans are in debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and couldn’t cover a $400 emergency.
Saving money first allows you to have hope for your financial future and give you the confidence and momentum to pay off your debt fast.
Once you are debt-free, you then save a full emergency fund and start investing for your future. The faster you can save money and pay off debt, the quicker you will be able to live the life you want.
Six Reasons You Should Save Before Paying Off Debt
Life Will Happen
The biggest reason that you should save before paying off debt is; life will happen.
- You WILL get a flat tire.
- You WILL forget a bill.
- Your dog WILL get sick.
- You WILL have something come up you didn’t plan for.
- There WILL be a natural disaster.
That is life. There will always be things that you forgot, didn’t expect, or didn’t think about come up.
When you are trying to pay off debt, you have to stop using debt. It doesn’t do you any good to throw dirt in the hole when you are trying to dig out.
When you have some money saved, it keeps you from using debt to cover those things that come up.
When you are in the trenches of paying off debt, it can feel like you aren’t making progress as fast as you want. If you don’t have any money saved and something comes up, you are no longer making progress at all; you will be going backward.
Saving before paying off debt allows you to continue to make progress without going backward.
Saving money is your life buffer because life WILL happen.
Reduce Your Stress
As you know, life WILL happen.
But when it does, and you have some money saved, it’s less stressful. You don’t have the added stress of how to pay for it. You know how you will pay for it, and then you only have to deal with the issue at hand.
It’s also a huge stress reliever to know that the money is there just in case, even when you don’t need it yet.
It is your life buffer, and it will save your sanity.
Even having a plan reduces stress. So, once you make your plan and save some money, a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders.
It will also reduce your stress to focus on just one thing at a time. When you try to do it all at once, it’s overwhelming. Focus on saving first, then move on to focusing only on paying off debt.
If you try to do both at once, it splits your attention and will feel like you aren’t making any real progress. This becomes frustrating and will make it easier to quit altogether.
So, focus on one thing at a time and focus all of your attention on that one thing so you can move onto the next.
It will reduce your stress levels and help you gain momentum through this process to do it faster than you.
Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Once you save some money, you can stop living paycheck to paycheck. It can still feel that way when you have a bunch of debt, but technically, you won’t be.
Living paycheck to paycheck means that if you miss a paycheck, you could not cover your expenses.
When you have money saved, you could miss a paycheck and still pay expenses and feed your family.
You will have peace of mind that you can still pay what you need to if for some reason you don't get a paycheck.
You Will Be More Successful
Let’s face it; when you try to do too many things at once, we don’t do anything well.
Our brains work better when we focus on ONE thing at a time.
If you are trying to save money, pay off debt, invest, and all the things at once, you won’t get any of them done fast, and you likely will give up before you are debt-free.
When you focus on one thing at a time, you are more likely actually to finish it, and you will be more successful.
Focus on saving first and only saving. If you are trying to save and pay off debt, it splits your focus and will take you longer to do both of them.
When you focus on just saving, you will do it a lot faster.
Then move on to paying off debt, and you will be more successful.
Pay Yourself First
The idea of “paying yourself first” has been around for a long time.
You have to take care of your family first, and then you will be able to pay your debts and give generously to others.
You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
You just never know what will happen in life so, if you pay yourself first by saving money, you will be prepared when something does happen. Because we know, life will happen.
Paying yourself first also sets up a good habit of saving before spending. This habit is incredibly essential when building long-term wealth.
You have to save for the future, and the unknown, and making it a priority and automatic will make it easier to maintain it.
Paying yourself first gives you options in the future. Having money saved and getting out of debt allows you to live a life you want. However, that looks for you.
For me, it meant quitting my stressful job and building my business. If we didn’t have any money saved and still had debt, we literally wouldn’t have been able to afford for me to quit.
So, think about what you want to do that you can’t afford right now and let that motivate you to move as fast as possible to save and pay off your debt.
Tips to Save Money Fast
Now, since you want to get started on paying off debt as fast as possible, here are a few tips to save $1000 quickly so you can get to paying off debt.
The biggest and easiest way to save money is to do a zero-based budget. This will help you see where your money has been going and be more intentional with where it goes in the future.
Once you do that, you will have a better idea of how much more you need to save.
Some great ways to get some extra money fast include:
- Sell everything you don’t need
- Work overtime
- Get an extra job
- Start a side business
- Cut monthly expenses
There are tons of other frugal living tips, but the general idea is to make more money and cut spending.
The more you can do those two things, the faster you can start living the life you want.
Saving first will help you be more successful and less stressed and overwhelmed. It’s important to save before you pay off debt so that you have a little life buffer when something comes up.
It will help you avoid going further into debt while trying to get out of debt.
It will help you be more successful while paying off your debt so you can actually do it and do it fast.
There will always be things that come up in life that require money. If you have some saved, you can handle it and move on without causing a tremendous financial strain on your family.
Once you are out of consumer debt, then you save up an even larger emergency fund, ideally 3-6 months' worth of expenses.
Just remember to focus on one thing at a time, and you will be more successful in the long run.