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Plan Well, Retire Well

New Year's Resolution: Pick a Debt, Pay It Down!

Pick a Debt, Pay it Down! Happy New Year background of glitter and fireworks

Happy New Year’s!  Now is the time to think about resolutions for 2020 and many people ponder which financial goal to choose. Sometimes I tend to make setting resolutions complicated and involved, and then I’m not likely to stick with the resolution.

I propose, keep it simple. Pick a debt and pay it down. Remember, the longer you have debt, the more you will likely pay in interest charges. You can use this money for other needs and goals, and have a lot more fun with it!

People ask me, which debt should I pay first? Often it doesn't make much difference. However, PowerPay, an online calculator, can help you decide what's best for you. This free website is from Utah State University Extension.

On the website, you login and then enter all the debts you owe including:

  • How much you owe,
  • Minimum amount due each month, and the
  • Interest rate.

Now, the fun of using a calculator begins!  You can easily calculate different scenarios such as:

  • What happens if you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first? This is typically the best way to get the most out of your dollars but sometimes people find it more helpful to pay off smaller debts first to simplify bill paying.
  • What happens if you put just $20 more a month towards paying off your debt?
  • What happens to the payment time if you put extra money towards the debt from your tax refund?

I love the calculator because you can calculate how long it will take you to pay off your loan and how much interest you save for different scenarios!

Once you know which debt you want to focus on and you have a plan for how much you will pay each money, then you’re set for 2020! No more decisions, just pay down the debt.