Paying Off Debt: Why, Ultimately, It’s All About “Me”

Should I focus on paying off debt by paying extra on my student loan and mortgage debts, or should I just pay the monthly amount due and put extra into my investments? I’ve been asked “Should I be focused on paying off debt or investing?” more times than I can now specifically recall. My old answer was: “Are you nuts?! Pay off the debt as fast as possible!” Where I come from, debt is bad. The entire thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies. My soul hurts when I remember the days of living under my debtor over-lords. I took a staunch, all-or-nothing, debt-free or bust mentality. The problem with that solution? Everybody’s not me, and for some people “bust” might be a more likely outcome of focusing solely on debt elimination. So what’s my answer now? “It depends.” When faced with paying off debt or not, there are some factors to consider. We’ll get to what it depends on in a minute, but just like everything else – what’s right for someone else may not be right for another. A personalized financial game plan will include a written debt elimination strategy, but that strategy will be largely dictated by where we fall on the Math-Emotion (ME) Spectrum. The Math-Emotion Spectrum I call this the Math-Emotion Spectrum because, well – most people don’t live 100% at either end. Although we may feel like we’re absolutely at one end or the other, some soul-searching would probably result in us finding that we …