I'm working on identifying my financial goals for next year, and I'm having trouble finding a balancing act between paying down debt vs. increasing my goal amounts for savings and investing. I've identified $20k worth of savings goals, split between my retirement account, my personal investments and my savings. My challenge is deciding what I want to do with any additional money throughout the year.
On the one hand, my student loans have been a nagging monkey on my back for some time now. I have 3 left: $6k @ 6.7%, and 2 more totaling $9k @ 3.75%. They're not a hardship on my budget (only $200/month), but they're old (the lower interest rate ones are from my undergrad back in 1999 and the other is from grad school in 2009). They're starting to annoy me the way relatives who overstay their welcome as guest in your house, if you KWIM. I can't wait to have them gone.
On the other hand, I'm getting closer to the halfway point between the start of my career and the end of it, so I'm becoming increasingly aware of the time I have left to take advantage of the miracle of compounded interest. While I've diligently invested in my retirement account since my mid-20s, I've only in the last year or so started figuring the stock market out and investing extra money on my own. So I feel I'm a bit behind the power curve here.
I'd love to hear how folks here balance paying down your debt vs. increasing savings and investments. Which do you prioritize and why?