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What would you do if you had an accident and couldn't work or were laid off....

That would be a nightmare with no savings and four hungry mouths. Especially with a family you need to generate an emergency fund. Say, six months of living expenses for your family (bare minimum budget). The going e-fund standards on the other boards are at least three, maybe six months of living expenses. This is your contingency fund you don't want tied up in stocks, 401K, or anything else (try a Credit Union interest bearing account or money market fund). IMHO, it should be the minimum for any family and one wage earner.

In my opinion the e-fund is before any other spending/paying back. Emergencies are not predictable, by definition.

Then I would get the free money with the 401K match, no more, until the student loans were paid off. Why? Because I want to have a positive net worth. Sure, I can take the tax deduction on the student loans for 60 months and I will try to get it paid off in that time frame.

E-fund should be non-negotiable with kids. Then 401K free money. Then get that monkey off your back, get a positive net worth by paying off the loans. Federal loans can be defered if an emergency happens and you have financial hardship. Private loans may not be that easy. Then start investing with a DRP, CD, IRA, whatever.

Just my holy opinion.
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