Pay Off Credit Card or Other High Interest Debt

Speaking of things adding up, there is no investment strategy anywhere that pays off as well as, or with less risk than, merely paying off all high interest debt you may have. Many people have wallets filled with credit cards, some of which they’ve “maxed out” (meaning they’ve spent up to their credit limit). Credit cards can make it seem easy to buy expensive things when you don’t have the cash in your pocket - or in the bank. But credit cards aren’t free money.

Most credit cards charge high interest rates as much as 18 percent or more - if you don’t pay off your balance in full each month. If you owe money on your credit cards, the wisest thing you can do is pay off the balance in full as quickly as possible. Virtually no investment will give you the high returns you’ll need to keep pace with an 18 percent interest charge. That’s why you’re better off eliminating all credit card debt before investing savings. Some people try to payoff their mortgage early, but don't worry about that until you have paid of your credit cards. Once you’ve paid off your credit cards, you can budget your money and begin to save and invest. Here are some tips for avoiding credit card debt:

Put Away the Plastic

Don’t use a credit card unless your debt is at a manageable level and you know you’ll have the money to pay the bill when it arrives.

Know What You Owe

It’s easy to forget how much you’ve charged on your credit card. Every time you use a credit card, write down how much you have spent and figure out how much you’ll have to pay that month. If you know you won’t be able to pay your balance in full, try to figure out how much you can pay each month and how long it’ll take to pay the balance in full.

Pay Off the Card with the Highest Rate

If you’ve got unpaid balances on several credit cards, you should first pay down the card that charges the highest rate. Pay as much as you can toward that debt each month until your balance is once again zero, while still paying the minimum on your other cards.

The same advice goes for any other high interest debt (about 8% or above) which does not offer the tax advantages of, for example, a mortgage.

Once you have paid off those credit cards and begun to set aside some money to save and invest, you're in the savings habit!