1. When decision making is hard and we want to punt on it– because we have difficulty assessing future risks or whatever– doing both things is a reasonable strategy. It’s diversified and safe, but we should probably be aware in choosing the “both” option we’re often choosing something non-optimal for the sake of not making a decision on what is the best use of our limited resources.

    • Maybe. But I don’t think it’s always indecision or lack of certainty. I think it’s the fact that we can prioritize, but we can’t pause. I suppose where I’d push back on that pretty hard is when it comes to debt payoff versus investing. An alarming (or what is alarming to me) number of people are making comments like, “I’ll save for retirement after I payoff my debt.” Whoa, buddy. That’s time in the market you’ll never get back. Our compromise for this is to max out our Roths and pay extra toward our mortgage; once our Roths are maxed, then we push even more toward our mortgage. That’s not to say that my “both” is perfect, but I do think it’s better than missing out in a situation where time is such a factor.

  2. Yeah, we tend to think life is black and white a lot of the time, I know I am certainly guilty of that!

    But I agree you should trim your expenses and grow your income, that one is a no-brainer.

  3. 1 is better than none

    Both is great, but I always frame this up as which one is better to FOCUS on. We only have so much time, depending on your circumstance you may need to focus on debt or income.

    Also a factor – which one do you get more excited about accomplishing? Despite what the math says excitement could drive more progress if you are more passionate about the goal.

  4. Joy

    It also depends on where you are within your “timeline”. After university, all I wanted to do was pay down those student loans. My job at the time had a pension I could contribute too so I felt I was covered that way and therefore could focus on debt reduction. Now, the student loans are paid off but I have a 3 year old and safe but uninspiring job. Between these two spots I went back to school, racked up some debt, didn’t always have a job (but had an awesome boyfriend-now-husband) and haven’t built up my retirement savings to where I wish they would be.

    Now it’s about catching up, watching pennies, and building the retirement nest egg (and wee one’s RESP). I don’t have time to have a side hustle, I barely have time to donate to anything. Once she’s older though, and I figure out if I want to/what I want to do as a side hustle, then maybe it will be time to enlarge the spread.

    Moral of story: there might be one side that is better for you right now, but that will change depending on how your life changes.

    • You are so right, Joy! Being flexible with our thinking and our planning is so important. I am terrible at that. I’m far too type A for my own good. The idea of rerouting used to be very troubling to me. Now I realize that it’s probably the only way to get ahead!

  5. I believe that if you have a dilemma where you have to pay off student loans, credit card debt and want to contribute to your retirement account, you can do all that but you have to plan it out on how to want to distribute them. This also means cutting back on your expenses like you alluded to so you have more to pay off debt/loans and contribute to your retirement.
    If you have a priority to pay off a loan/debt first, go ahead and do that but don’t completely forget about your other debts and contributions.

    • Totally! That’s exactly where I am. My debt bothers me emotionally and psychologically, but I know that I will never get time back on our Roths. So, we maxed it out with our refunds. Now, everything that we would normally put toward our Roths each month can go to our debt (mortgage)!

  6. The first thing I thought of was that little girl in the El Paso commercials (??) and she’s like…”why not both?!” then everyone’s stunned to silence at the brilliance then it’s cuts away to people throwing her a party. I hope you’ve seen that one or else I’m coming off looney. Why can’t people see both?!

  7. Why not both is my default. I began investing while I still had CC debt. Seeing how quickly investments can grow is far more powerful than reading about it for years. Folks should seek out balance and what helps them sleep at night. It’ll be different for everyone, and that’s okay.

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