Hey, guys! This is Justin Goodbread with Financially Simple. So if there is one question I get quite frequently, it is, “What debt should I pay off first?” In fact this last week I had an entrepreneurial doctor in our office and he recently freed up about $1000 a month. Many people will say, “Use the debt snowball.” It’s a good idea. Some will say, “Knock out the highest interest first.” That’s a great idea and may work for you. Which of these two popular options, if any, will work best for him?
He actually has three types of debt left. He only has his mortgage, his student loan and business loan. That’s it (kudos to him!) No car loans. No credit cards. He’s in good shape. If you become disabled or die, your student loan goes away. It’s typically forgiven or cast away. If you become disabled or pass away, then your mortgage is obviously there. That leaves us with the business debt. The business debt when he acquired this particular practice, he took out a huge note, and the bank encumbered the practice, and now he’s trying to knock out the debt.
We looked at all things. We looked at the interest. We looked at the student loan, and the interest on the business note was almost the same. The mortgage was significantly lower. We knew he wasn’t going to live in his house for many more years before they changed things with the kids.
What we elected to do was to pay off the business debt first. The reason why now it wasn’t just a shot in the dark. We ran data out and looked at all the significant scenarios and how it would affect his net worth. This client is a particular profession that has a little bit higher than normal disability rate come into play. So, in the event that he becomes disabled, we don’t really want to attack the student loan because they’ll go away. We know that he’s likely going to sell his house or do something different with it in the next couple of years. But his business debt, if he becomes disabled, his spouse or future associate would be forced to try to find a buyer for this business. So we want to hammer out the debt on the practice note.
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The second thing is, he’s a high-income earner. He’s making some good money and whenever there is business debt involved, the bank, in this case, has a UCC-1 Filing or a lien over the whole business. And whenever you have a lean there, you can’t use the full gamut of tax planning techniques that we need to use. So this client opted to pay off his business note first. We’ll deal with his student loans second and finally, we’ll attack his mortgage.
So remember, strategies are not always a one-size-fits-all. Talk with your financial planner, your accountant, your attorney. You always want to look specifically at what personally affects you, your goals, your outcome. They will help you make your life financially simple.