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What Should People Do First Pay Debt or Invest?

The very common question comes to an individual’s mind which is the best to pay debt first or invest whoever has debt.

The basic thing is that there are many types of investment options and debts are out there in the market to consider.

However, it is suggested that individuals should pay debt first before investing money in any type of investment scheme. Below are the few tips to answer this question.

Most important if you have credit card debt pay it first before you start investing. The reason behind this is credit card debt cost may increase at some time and the debt burden can increase which results in loss of your investment.

Suppose if you have any type of fixed-income investments like bonds, fixed deposits, you should sell that bond and liquidate fixed deposit to pay the debt because the returns on the given investment might be less than the cost of debt.

It is recommended to pay the debt before investing because debt can stop you to take a risk in the equity funds.

Risk Premium: Reasons to Pay Debt First

The returns which you will get from the risk-free investment is less than the cost of the debt except few of the investment like stocks but it is also not granted to give you higher returns. The risk premium is also known as higher expected. Risk premium defines risk taken by you and the reflection of the degree of the risk.

Some of the longer-term bonds given a risk premium of around 2% a year above the return of one month T-bills. This is what known as term risk and in most cases, it is related to inflation.

On the other hand, stocks have earned approx 7% of risk premium a year. Small risker and value stocks also earned the risk premiums.

Let’s assume a scenario, where the T-bills are at 4%, and stocks are expected to returns at 10% and the risk premium of 6%. And in case your debt costs you 8% then the risk premium can be only 2%. Now you are taking a risk of 6% and earning only 2% which does not make sense to invest before paying the debt.

Now it could look more complex because you have to look after-tax returns. Therefore, you need to adjust the cost of the debt to look true after-tax cost and also need to adjust equity returns to look the capital gain lower in case taxable account.

Investing where Tax Exempted

Investing the accounts like PPF, NPS, and other few government-sponsored saving schemes can save tax or are allowed for tax exemption. Now the question is that investing in these accounts and schemes will give more retunes and it is advisable to invest before paying the debt. The answer is doing the math and calculate the amount of the returns after tax and compare it with the debt cost.

Now, this is important that most of the people with mortgages don’t qualify for the mortgage deduction because they use the standard deduction or because of alternative minimum tax. It is also important you should pay your debt in the riskless transaction, except if the fixed investment is backed by the government. You may get high retunes after paying the credit card debt.

You May Read: Best Tips to Financial Planning

The Mortgage is Debt like Other Debt

The mortgage is debt too like other debt. Most of the people make mistakes while asset allocation they don’t think about the mortgage on their home as debt. The Mortgage debt must be considered as other debt and people should not leave mortgage without paying because it affects your returns on investment.

Mortgage vs. Investing

Suppose your financial plan allows you to earn high returns on your investment without paying the mortgage you can start investing. But in case you get less retunes on your investment you should be ready to take the risk.

Figure out the asset allocation carefully to get good returns on your investment and find a way to pay the mortgage. Sometimes it does not give a big effect on your investment returns because the cost could very less on mortgage debt.

The Final Word!

It is recommended to pay any debt including mortgage before investing because debt cannot let you take a risk on funds like equity.

Sometimes it is good to invest without paying the debt, in that case, do the math and deep research to consider one of the options which can benefit you.


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