Top Books to Help You Pay off Debt

Colin Slabach
Yahoo Finance
August 20, 2019

Colin Slabach, assistant professor of retirement at The American College of Financial Services, met with Yahoo Finance to discuss the must-read books on retirement.

More of us are shouldering a greater debt burden than ever before. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total household debt rose by $192 billion to a total of $13.9 trillion in the second quarter of 2019, breaking the previous record of $12.7 trillion in outstanding debt accumulated as of the third quarter of 2008 — not a flattering comparison.

In the last quarter of 2018 alone, Americans racked up an additional $26 billion on credit cards, and more than half of the Americans who use credit cards have credit card debt.

So what are the best ways to pay off credit card debt? And what are the smartest strategies for paying off debt in general? First off, it’s important to take the long view concerning debt — and understand that not all debt is bad.

“People need to take a more holistic approach so that they don’t look at debt as dangerous or unhealthy but rather a tool that can help them achieve their life goals,” says Colin Slabach, assistant professor of retirement at The American College of Financial Services. He adds this important caveat: “If not managed appropriately, debt can be a burden and cause unnecessary stress in one’s life.”

So if you’re one of the 55% with credit card debt, or if student loans, medical bills or other circumstances have put your personal balance sheet in the red, Slabach and other financial experts recommend the following books as good sources for advice on how to pay off debt — and how to achieve a debt-free life.

This book grew out of a 2013 blog post by University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack that went viral. Micah Hauptman, financial services counsel at the Consumer Federation of America, says it expands on the core financial principles Pollack scrawled on that famous index card with insights to help people put those in practice.

“It provides clear explanations of what can often be complicated topics, coupled with simple and easily implementable strategies to help reduce debt and increase savings,” he says.

While not a how-to on paring down debt, The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge is worthwhile for exploring the psychological underpinnings of what often gets us into debt in the first place, Slabach says. As the title indicates, it looks at money mistakes through the tale of Charles Dickens’ classic miser.

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