Letter Re: Personal Debt Levels

Dear Mr. Rawles,
 I have read Patriots and am working on (from the library) your three other books.  I have a great group I am connected with and all are reading your material.  Also, I have the book Strategic Relocation–North American Guide to Safe Places by Joel and Andrew Skousen.  I really appreciate all your advice and tips and have been working as best I can to prepare.  My question revolves around how crucial you think it would be for  me to pay off as much debt as possible before the coming collapse or whatever comes? 
I am struggling with balancing paying a credit card debt and mortgage while keeping my decent paying job, but this and some other bills that can’t go away quickly enough (student loans for example) are in the way of me doing other things to prepare.  I don’t expect you to have the “magic answer” but was wondering your opinion of how important paying debt is as opposed to preparing?  I don’t mean getting a loan to prep or a new credit card, but is paying off a mortgage or a VISA card really that important WTSHTF? 
I ask this as one who has always paid my bills and am never late.  I did, however, charge some food and prepping supplies as I felt I was behind on that.
I am open to brutal honesty of course.  If you have time I would appreciate your input.
Thank you very much. Your brother in Christ, – Gregg in Central Washington

JWR Replies: We are possibly facing several more years of deflation before mass inflation kicks in.  Deflation makes consumer debt devastating in the event of a layoff or a substantial pay cut.

I highly recommend Dave Ramsey‘s books.  He has many proven solutions to personal indebtedness.

Don’t hesitate to team up with neighbors, relatives and like-minded friends. By picking specialties, pooling some resources and doing “group buys” you can get your key preparations squared away much less expensively.