Pay Down Debt or Build Up Savings? What to Do in Tough Times

This illustration shows a person building up blocks while another person takes smaller blocks from the middle. This story goes over if you should pay down debt first or save up money first.
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When it comes to money, we’re all living through chaotic and uncertain times. And we’re learning some hard financial lessons.

Here’s one: With millions of Americans losing their jobs this year, we learned that it’s a good idea to save up an emergency fund that equals three to six months of your salary. You know, just in case.

So we should all have emergency funds. Great! That’s all settled! However, this has countless Americans pondering a fundamental financial question: Should I focus on paying down my debts? Or building up my savings?  

Robin Hartill, a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder, advises people to make building an emergency fund the priority.

If you have credit card debt, she gets that it’s frustrating to see your money go up in flames when you fork it over to your credit card company and its high interest rates.

“The best thing you can do is set yourself up so that you never have to turn to a credit card again,” she said. “If you can break the cycle of relying on credit cards, you’ll come out ahead, even if that means wasting some money on interest in the short term.”

Keep making minimum payments on all your debt, of course. But beyond that, focus on saving enough so you have at least a three-month cushion.

Ask This Company to Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month

If you’re tired of paying credit card interest, just know that your credit card company certainly doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates.

However, a website called AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off all of your credit card balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

What’s that? You’ve never gotten a personal loan before? Well, in these chaotic and uncertain times, you’ve got to use every strategy and tool at your disposal. Maybe try one that you haven’t tried before!