In my earlier post, The Foundation To Building Wealth, I explained how the kind of wealth you build is determined by the way cash flows through your life. With that in mind, I suggested that you set a goal of Paying Yourself First at least 10%-12.5% (or 1 hour a day) of your pretax income. I received tons of great comments and some awesome questions, one of which I would like to highlight and answer in today’s blog post….
“Should I still open a retirement account and save money if I have credit card debt?”
This is a question I get all the time and my answer is:
Yes, you should absolutely open a retirement account and start saving even if you are in debt!
After more than two decades of experience teaching people about money, I have come to believe with all my heart that it’s a big mistake to put off saving money until you are debt free. If you do, you may never get started saving. And you’ll miss out on the matching contribution many employers offer on 401(k) plans.
But if you’re in credit card debt, you need a different plan. Here it is: whatever amount you decide to Pay Yourself First, split it in half. Put 50% in your retirement account and use 50% to pay off your debt. Once the debt is paid, you can revert to Paying Yourself First with the full 100%.
If you make $50,000 a year, Paying Yourself First 10% would mean setting aside $5,000 a year or $416 a month. But if you have credit card debt you’d split that in half, putting aside $208 a month and using the other $208 to pay off credit cards. This system allows lets you feel like you’re working for the future while erasing the mistakes of the past.
This is bound to motivate you and get you excited about the future. In my experience, money is as much an emotional issue as a numerical one. This approach helps you handle both at once.
I call this my “Bury the Past, Jump to the Future” system. Try it. It really works.
Exercise: The Pay Yourself First 50% Debt Paydown
How to Use It: Print out this blog post and fill in the blanks below to figure out how much money every month you can put toward your debt while still Paying Yourself First. (you can also just write this on a piece of paper if you don’t have access to a printer).
Why to Use It: It’s a fast, easy way to know exactly how much you’ll have every month to pay off your credit cards.
The Bottom Line: Dividing your money this way makes sense, because it lets you keep building for a bright future while steadily getting rid of that killer consumer debt.
When You’ve Finished the Exercise: Now start making those payments and watching your balances fall! If you have more than one card and you’re not sure which to pay first, then CLICK HERE for my easy and effective system to prioritizing your debt.
If this post helped you, please leave a comment below!