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Everyday Cheapskate: Take the Sure Thing, or Straighten Up and Fly Right

Mary Hunt on

Soon, I will get a windfall of about $40,000. Should I use that to pay down the unsecured debt? -- Stan

Stan: If you were to do that, you would still have $30,000 unsecured debt plus a mortgage. Sounds a lot better, for sure.

But what happens next month, when you have an unexpected emergency, or next year, when you lose your job? You'll feel you have no choice but to run to the credit cards for a bailout, and before you know it, you'll be back at $70,000, or probably more.

My advice is to use that windfall to fund your contingency fund, which is a pool of money equal to three months' (six is better) living expenses, known by many as an emergency fund.

Sock it away in a savings account, where it can earn some amount of interest. Now live as frugally as you can, and attack that $70,000 nut with all the gusto you can muster.


Put yourself on a strict spending diet. Just knowing you are not sitting on the edge of financial doom will give you the courage to endure short-term sacrifice.

All you need now is persistence and determination.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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