Should you save, or pay off loans and credit cards?

You will rarely be able to earn more on your savings, than you’ll pay on your borrowings. So, as a rule of thumb plan to pay off your debts before you start to save. 

Paying off your debt

If you are paying more for your borrowing than you’re getting on your savings, then it makes sense to pay off your loans – so long as you can access funds in an emergency (see more on this below) and you’ll not be charged high penalties for repaying your loan.

If you have several debts to clear, aim to clear the most expensive ones first. These are the most common examples:

  • Most credit card debt
  • Store card debts
  • Unauthorised overdraft
  • Catalogue shopping
  • Pay-day loans
  • Door-to-door lending (home credit)

When to start saving

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Generally, it’s fine to save and have some debt as long as:

  • you’re keeping up with your mortgage payments
  • you’re paying off your credit card bill each month
  • you don’t have other loans or credit commitments that are costing you more in interest than you could earn on your savings.
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Get into the savings habit

Regular saving is really important. Make it easy by setting up a standing order or Direct Debit to move money into a savings account regularly so you don’t spend it or forget to put it aside. After a while, you won’t even miss it. And, to save even faster, why not set a savings goal so you know:

  • How much you are going to save
  • How long it will take you to reach your goal

If you pay tax, you’ll probably want to start by thinking about tax efficient savings, like making the most of your ISA allowance. 

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The Personal Savings Allowance

Every basic and higher-rate taxpayer has a personal savings allowance. This means you don’t pay tax on the first £1,000 of interest you earn from savings (or the first £500 if you’re a higher rate taxpayer).

Find out more about the Personal Savings Allowance

What about paying off your mortgage early?

If you have cash to spare, you might think about reducing your mortgage. 

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What about an emergency fund?

Ideally it’s a good idea to have at least three months’ money in reserve as part of your savings.

But if you have debts use the money to clear these first provided you have access to emergency funds such as a credit card.

If an emergency arises and you have to you go for this option, it’s important not to start using the card for other purchases, as you’ll risk running up yet more debt.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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