Last night I acknowledged that I don't have an answer to the question of balancing paying down debt and building up savings. (Scroll down to #7) I did a little digging over at Trent's site The Simple Dollar (a magnificent resource! I knew I'd find it eventually over there if I looked hard enough!) Comparing Apples to Oranges: Saving Ahead Versus Paying Down Debt was exactly what I was looking for, and I really didn't have to look that hard! This is actually more of an explanation, as the backstory, and here is another article of Trent's that addresses the same issue. I especially liked this article, which provided a priority list of sorts.
1.) spend less than you earn
2.) establish the emergency fund
3.) save for retirement
4.) eliminate debts
My hubby and I have it all backward. We both have great retirement funds set up, but other than that we've neglected living within our means and building up the emergency fund as well as eliminating debt (obviously - by not living within our means!!)
This is also a great way to establishing a structured overal debt payment plan.
And this will help me stay on track!!
So I have three financial (savings) goals right now. Trent says it's better to have only one financial goal at a time, and I agree with him, but two of these goals are time-sensitive. Actually, one is time sensitive, the other is a false urgency of mine. I REALLY want to get a small motorcycle. I reason that it will help me save on gas, but I really just want to start riding now that I have my license. *Sigh* the truth hurts sometimes, doesn't it? So the bike will be on the bottom of my totem pole of priorities, but it's still there!
So, the three Savings goals (in order of priority) are:
1.) Emergency fund. Building up 3 months worth of my current gross salary within two years.
2.) Travel fund. Save for travel expenses that we'll incur in 3 months when we visit our new niece or nephew. This will involve at LEAST airline, possibly car rental and maybe hotel expenses. My SIL's parents have offered to house us, but I'm not sure how my hubby will react to that. Hmmm. I need to communicate better, don't I? (This SIL and I both married into the family, so her parents aren't MY in-laws). Before I have a definite goal, I'll need a definite amount to save for. But I'll start anyway!
3.) Motorcycle Fund!!! LOL... I hoped to purchase a bike for myself this fall figuring they'd be selling pretty cheap as people are debating whether they want to store them for another winter or not, but I may have to wait until spring when I can save more for it and not be strapped for cash for my trip.