How Can We Pay Down Our Debt to Save For College? – Marie

“Dear Steve,

I will try to make a long story short…Currently have approx $38K in credit card debt, $30K in HELOC, $195K in first mortgage, $8K in car loan. Husband is collecting disability for heart condition and works part-time. Our combined income with disability for husband and payments for our children, his part-time income and my full time income is $95,400 gross annually. We have 3 children, oldest is 14 and about to start high school. Husband is 50, and I am 40. We are paying more than our minimum payment to the highest credit card and plan on paying off in that order. According to my plan, we will have all credit card debt gone in 4 years…but not have made a dent in our HELOC. Not sure if there is a better way to get a handle on this debt….worried about our retirement (husband has approx $90K in retirement money, I have approx $50) and we virtually have nothing saved for the kids college….

Any ideas on how to help us pay down the debt, save for college, and save for retirement?


Dear Marie,

There are no magical answers here but you have some options:

  1. Keep doing what you are doing.
  2. Pay down your debt using the debt snowball approach.
  3. If your loans on the home total more than the value of the home consider bankruptcy to reduce the value of the loan and give you more breathing room.
  4. You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and see how much you could reduce your debt now to prepare for upcoming college.
  5. You could plan for the kids to apply for college loans in their names and when you can you can start repaying them.
  6. Consider sending the kids to a local community college for the first two years to cut college costs.

The way you dig yourself out of debt is to either reduce expenses and devote more towards debt reduction or increase income.

See also  Help! We're Worried We'll Outlive Our Retirement Savings

You are right to be worried about retirement. All of this is coming faster than you want.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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1 thought on “How Can We Pay Down Our Debt to Save For College? – Marie”

  1. Thanks, Steve….I really don’t want to go the route of Bankruptcy. Our credit scores are still decent at 779 for me and 737 for my husband. I did plan on applying your “Snowball” effect. My house value is probably about what I owe, maybe a little more. I agree with the community college plan for the kids. I guess I just wanted verification that I am handling this debt the right way at this point. Thanks for your help


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