Personal Finance

Live like your income has not changed

  • Be smart: donít let your debts snowball. If your income has increased, act as if it hasnít and put the extra cash towards paying off all your debts (File photograph)

Dear Dave,

Iíll be graduating from college in December, and Iíll have a job waiting for me that pays $50,000 a year. This will bring our household income up to about $95,000. The problem is weíve got $18,000 in student loan debt, $2,500 in credit card debt, and $4,000 to pay in medical bills. Weíre living in an apartment right now, so how should we handle this income increase regarding our debt situation?

Mikayla

Dear Mikayla,

Congratulations on your decision to get control of your finances and your degree. If you two just keep living the way you have been, minus the debt, and put the rest towards the debt youíve incurred, you could be debt-free in a year or so.

Remember, just because youíve got a lot more money coming in doesnít mean you should double your entertainment budget, take an expensive vacation, or run out and buy a new car. The first thing Iíd recommend is sitting down together, and working out a written, monthly budget. Give every dollar a name and a job to do before the coming month begins.

Donít forget the debt snowball, either! List all your debts from smallest to largest, and attack the smallest ó that credit card debt ó first with a vengeance, while making minimum payments on the medical bills and student loan debt.

Once youíve paid off the credit card debt, roll the money from that payment over and apply it, plus any other cash you can scrape together, towards the medical bills.

Once the medical bills are out of the way, repeat the process and roll the payments over again targeting the student loan debt. At this point, you should have a bunch of cash to throw at those student loans each month until all that debt is off your backs once and for all.

Iím really proud of you two, Mikayla. If youíll follow my plan from here on out, youíll gain control of your money and be set to start saving and building real wealth.

óDave

ē Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey