Looking for a little input
I have about $36K in debt, some of it tax debt, some student loans for the kids and some credit card debt. My current savings is just over $7K and with recent changes I've made I have about $2K per month I can pay toward debt.
I used the free Debt Payoff spreadsheet from https://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/debt-calculators.html to calculate the snowball/pay off strategy so have the plan set to be debt free by September of 2021.
My current plan has me contributing $250 into my savings every month as well as a few other long term goals like travel or large purchases.
I know I can accelerate the payoff and save interest by using a portion of my savings, but I've never been really consistent with building a savings. So I am thinking that I leave my savings alone, continue with the current plan of paying down about $2K a month and contributing $250 a month to savings. The benefit of doing it this way is that I really get into the habit of saving, I still have my savings account in case something goes really sideways, and my debt snowball payment can flex a bit from month to month as well. If I use a chunk of my savings and move my savings budget to debt payoff to accelerate, I potentially get out of debt sooner and save some interest, but would not be as prepared for a big emergency and would not necessarily be building good savings habits.
I guess I could calculate the cost savings between the options but I think for me the most important factor is building some consistency. Are there other things to consider? What have others done?
You should be more specific about what you're saving for. That alone will promote consistency, assuming that's something important to you. It will also make it clear what you're paying interest for (by not putting that money toward debt).
When you are in debt, everything is financed. Only you can decide if you're OK with that.
but would not be as prepared for a big emergency
I say fight the devil you know. Many would say that debt IS a big emergency.
I've never understood the desire to hold back cash from paying off high-rate debt -- and pay for that "privilege" -- if the "might-happen-someday" emergency can likely be handled with that same credit.
So how much are you paying towards debt monthly?
This is the way I look at it:
What is it COSTING you to be in debt, and pay it down? You mentioned $2000, if that's what you are paying monthly, then just imagine when that is GONE you will get a $2000 raise automatically EVERY month.
How would that impact your ability to save? How would that impact your ability to not just build up an emergency savings, but to also fund categories for necessities (like clothes, or basic things that crop up now and then)?
The debt calculators can also tell you how much you will NOT spend by paying off debt faster. Undebt.it is magic about that, and it makes it really clear to see what you can do. Keeping the debt hanging around longer at an interest rate above zero impacts your ability to be able to do things long into the future.
So if you want to give yourself a raise, and have MORE capacity to put aside bigger amounts for savings, then pay off the debt faster. If you can roll the debt into a zero percent interest loan, then that might change your strategy, but you also have to remember how much more money you'll have available when the debt is gone, too.
When I came into YNAB like you, I was using some Dave Ramsey. I wanted to have the $1,000 EF before putting more toward savings. Since you have a little over a year to payoff, consider putting a cap on your savings for now. The thought around saving for specific things/funding sinking funds is important too. I funded those categories in addition to my EF. After about five months, I got rid of the EF and funded other categories instead.
Also, a few times I didn't follow my snowball exactly, but used a set amount of funds to payoff an entire debt. You might at some point to get to a point where you have enough in your savings to get rid of one, and it's SUCH A FREEING FEELING.
Congrats at getting this far and good luck!