Christian Living


Dave Says: Investing While Paying Down Debt?

Dave Says
Author Biography

Dear Dave,

My wife and I have been following the Baby Steps, and we’ve paid off all of our credit card debt. We still have $51,000 in student loans left, and our combined income is about $140,000. We’re thinking about funding our IRAs while we finish off the college loans. How do you feel about this?


Dear Patrick,

I wouldn’t do it that way. If you’re still on Baby Step 2, you need to stop all saving and investing and attack that last piece of debt with a vengeance. I know what you’re going through. The problem with student loans is that, like yours, they’re usually pretty big, and sometimes it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even with all the work you’ve done so far, a debt that large can make you feel hopeless.

But there’s only one way to take down a giant. You start gnawing at his ankles and work your way up. That’s what you need to do, Patrick. I’m afraid you’ll lose focus and intensity when it comes to getting out of debt if you worry about saving more and investing too soon. I’ve seen that happen to lots of people, and when it does it can take a decade or more to finally get student loans off your back!

You guys have made great progress, and you’re making good money. Don’t give up now! If you stay focused and gazelle-intense about getting out of debt, those student loans will be history in about 18 months. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves, get ticked off at this thing, and really go into attack mode.

I understand the temptation you guys are facing, but I want you to stick to the plan.

There’s power in behavior modification on a short-term basis that supersedes the power of mathematics!

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