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Dave Says: Pay Off Debt vs. Down Payment

Dear Dave,

We’re expecting our second child next spring, and even though we have an extra bedroom, our place is pretty small for a growing family. We also have $40,000 in student loan debt hanging over our heads, but we can save up almost $50,000 by the time the baby’s here. Should we use this money to buy a bigger home or pay off debt?

Chris

Dear Chris,

If it were me, I’d make sure to knock out the student loan before buying a house. Trust me, if you buy a home with a ton of debt hanging over your heads, Murphy will move into your spare bedroom and make your lives miserable. If it can happen, it will happen. And that’s especially true when it comes to buying a house when you don’t have much cash on hand.

You’re telling me you can save nearly $50,000 by next year. That means you guys are making pretty good money. So there’s no reason you can’t turn around and do the same thing next year, right? I mean, this is only a one- or two-year program we’re talking about. In another year’s time, you could save up for a huge down payment with some extra savings on the side. If you waited and saved for two years, there’s a possibility you could pay cash for a bigger place outright. Imagine how cool it would be to have your own home with no mortgage payments!

Just clean up the extra bedroom and fix it up as a nice nursery. Some new carpet or hardwood is always nice. Throw in a fresh coat of paint, and you’re in business. Then, a year or two after the new baby arrives, you’ll be ready to move from a financial and a family perspective. A baby can live just fine in a small bedroom. There’s nothing in the world wrong with that!

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
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