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Working through multiple debts can seem like slogging through quicksand.

We’re told to line up our debts from highest interest rate to lowest. Tackle from the top and work our way down. But what if the card at the top also happens to have the biggest balance?  

A typical example may look like this: You’ve got your maxed-out HBC card, because of the holidays, sitting at 29.9%. Summer travel costs linger around at 19.9% on your Visa. And there’s that growing balance from meals out and mindless shopping on the card you use most often, your MasterCard, at 11.9%. 
 
I was looking at multiple debts similar to this, and I became quickly discouraged by the lack of progress, and overwhelmed by the string of debts still waiting in line. So, I tried the opposite approach. Instead of interest rates, I focused on balance – reordering debts from lowest balance to highest. I still paid the minimum payments on all outstanding loans, but the one with the smallest balance got everything else I could spare. When it was eliminated, I moved on to the second-lowest balance. I worked up the ladder instead of down – and was debt-free in slightly more than a year. 
 
Click here for more in the Globe and Mail.
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