Debt Elimination

A Different Debt Elimination Plan: Make It Personal

Debt Elimination Plan

There are two main strategies for paying off debt.  I’m sure you’ve heard of both:

    1. Pay off your debt with the highest interest rate first, or
    2. Pay off your debt with the lowest balance first

Both are fine options and I wouldn’t disagree with you for choosing either of these methods, but I’ve got a third debt elimination plan for you to consider.  One that I don’t think you’ve heard of yet.

    3. Pay off the debt which you hate the most!


Those that argue for paying off debt with the highest interest rates have the easiest case to make.  If a penny saved is a penny earned, then eliminating high interest debts first makes the most financial sense.  It’s hard to argue with the math.

The other popular debt elimination plan is to pay off your debt with the lowest balance first. Rather than focusing on the finances and numbers, proponents of this approach are going for a quick, psychological win that will keep you motivated in your fight against debt. Again, I see the value here and it’s tough to argue against the psychological value of winning.

If you choose one of those methods to pay down your debt then I’ll be cheering you on.  But I’ve got a different approach to paying off debt for you to consider: make it personal.


From a logical standpoint it’s hard to argue with the two most popular approaches.  They’re popular for a reason, but my debt elimination plan, while maybe a bit different, has its own kind of logic:

Attack whatever debt you despise the most, regardless of the loan balance or the interest rate.

This is my preferred approach because it’s the most motivating for me, and I suspect that it might be equally motivating for you as well.  And when you’re paying off debt, whatever motivates you is the right approach.

Essentially my approach of making this personal channels your inner humanness.  We humans don’t like to be wronged and we seek out justice whenever we feel slighted.  Why not take that human quality and focus it onto your finances?


Let’s say that you’ve got the following four debts.

Student Loan $20,000 9.5%
Credit Cards $10,000 14.5%
Auto Loan $8,000 10%
Medical Bill $12,000 12%

You know that paying just the minimum balance on each of these loans isn’t wise, but you don’t’ know which debt to apply your extra money towards first.  So where do you start?

  • The student loan has the highest loan balance.
  • The credit card has the highest interest rate.
  • The auto loan has the lowest loan balance.
  • The Medical bill is neither the high nor low in any category

The mathematicians will tell you to pay off the credit cards since that’s the most expensive loan you have.  The psychologists  would start with the low balance and take the quick win you’d get from paying off the auto loan.  Tough to argue with the logic in either argument.

But that medical bill happens to be from a tattoo removal procedure you underwent to forget about (S)He Who Must Not Be Named.  You’ve got some issues with that debt, and that’s where I’d consider putting your bulls-eye.

It might not be the logical approach, but debt isn’t logical.  If it were, we wouldn’t get ourselves into so much debt in the first place.  So rather than being logical about it, I like to make it personal.

One of the quotes I love is “relentlessly eliminate the bullshit from your life.”   Ditto that for debt.  It feels soooooo good to know that you’re eliminating something from your life which you hate so much.  Use that hate to fuel your drive to a debt free life.

Two popular debt elimination strategies include attacking the highest interest rate or lowest balance first. I like a third plan better: Make It Personal.

Chime in!

What do you think of this approach to paying off debt?  Do you have any bills you hate so much that you’d rather get rid of it ahead of a higher interest rate or lower balance debt?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

By Ty Roberts

Ty Roberts is the founder of Camp FIRE Finance, and a husband and father of four living in the Seattle area. He's a fan of the 4% rule, 80s movies and music, dad jokes and cast iron cooking.

21 replies on “A Different Debt Elimination Plan: Make It Personal”

Love this concept, Ty! What better motivation than to eliminate the debt you hate!? And it would feel so great to watch that balance drop. Love the quote, by the way! 🙂

That is a good question, especially since they all have different interest charges. I personally would tackle the credit card first because of the highest interest rate, but I would try to give my extra money each month to the loan with the highest interest charges. As loan balances get whittled down, you would alternate from loan to loan.

Essentially. If my math is correct, the student loans would actually have the highest monthly interest charges with the current example. So, yes, I would hit that first. It’s easier when all your loans are one type (i.e. 4 student loans with 4 different interest rates).

If I was looking to improve my credit score, I would probably hammer away at the credit card.

LOL, great approach! We only have mortgage debt, so it’s not like I hate our house mortgage more than our rental mortgage. What I do hate is my HOA, because we got into an argument one year. They thought I had made a late payment, and kept adding interest and penalties because they didn’t tell me I was late. They’d put my payment toward the late fee first, which meant I had 20 or so consecutive late fees assessed. I got it all straightened out, but now I pay them once a year in January with a pointed note to let me know immediately f this does not satisfy all HOA fees for the calendar year.

Great strategy, Ty. Some things need to be left firmly in the past, and it’s hard to get them off your mind when you see that bill every month.
Tattoos, legal fees, payments on a car you now hate, tuition payments for a school that has closed and gave you a useless degree (lots of for-profit schools turned out to be duds), all of these are like giant albatrosses that must be cast off.

Nice post, Ty!
I enjoy this concept of paying off debt a lot. I think it would be an extremely motivating way to refocus. I’m going to try to employ this strategy lol Have a great week 🙂

This is a great strategy. Utilizing your strategy I would do the Medical first, then the student loan debt second. I think it is ridiculous how expensive college is these days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *