Personal finance is a strange space. The people who are really into it are normally numbers people. They are really good at working out the numbers to find the one right way to do things. Every personal finance writer knows the right way to create a budget, the right amounts for an emergency account, and the right order to pay off your debt. The problem is all those things that look good on paper don’t work in real life nearly as well.
For example, there is a debate that rages among personal finance geeks over whether you should pay off your highest interest rate debt or your lowest balance debt first. The logic being that paying off the higher interest rate saves you interest in the long run, but paying off the lower balance builds emotional momentum. Most PF people including myself will argue for the mathematical advantage of paying off the higher interest rate. But, if you never get over that first hump and give up along the way it doesn’t matter if it is mathematically advantageous; doing it inefficiently is still better than not doing it at all.
I think it is also best to give yourself a raise and reduce your tax return at the end of the year. After all I am sure you can use that money better than the government can. There is no reason to give them an interest free loan all year. Or is there? If you are the kind of person who may not use the extra money wisely and the only way you can save money is by forcing yourself to do it through your tax return, then it is the right thing for your; even if it isn’t mathematically (or politically) the best.
Personal finance is personal. Just because it is good on paper or in theory does not mean it is the best thing for you. As you begin your own personal finance journey don’t assume your life has to fit into the mold of anyone. Try what ever you need to do in order to be successful. That may mean throwing out the rules we personal finance geeks write. It may mean doing it your own way, and if you are successful you win.
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