Which Debt to Pay Off First

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Having a plan is one of the best ways to calm yourself down when facing a giant pile of… well, anything. In this case, there are all kinds of ways to tackle paying down debts. You most likely don't just have one single load to eliminate, though, and figuring out where to start can be overwhelming in itself.

Financial planner Matt Frankel has a simple proposal for organizing that choice. It may be tempting to start with the smallest debt and get rid of it as soon as possible. After all, this is one of the most straightforward and satisfying debt-reduction plans out there. But Frankel points out that there are different kinds of debt, just like there are different kinds of tigers; some are hungry and ready to pounce, while others might rather lounge in the sunshine without threatening you much.

Rather than defaulting to debt size, take a moment to consider what kinds of interest rates you're juggling. "In other words, if your student loans carry about 6 percent interest, and you have credit card debt at a 24 percent APR, deciding where to funnel your extra money should be a no-brainer," Frankel writes for The Motley Fool. "As a general rule, it's a smart idea to start with your highest-interest debts and work your way down."

You have every right to feel frustrated and weighed down by debt loads. Give yourself the gift of momentum for the process of getting rid of it. There's no reason to have a lifelong relationship with credit card bills, student loans, or anything else that's a drag.