Editor: Crass Cash
So with that said, here's why it's better to pay off debt (especially high interest) vs saving it. The key is in the interest rate of the debt vs the interest rate of the investment. I've personally seen people who have enough money in a checking account to completely pay off their credit card debt. This is a horrible idea because you're probably making 0.1% interest on the checking account money and paying well over 15% on the credit card.
"But I like the thought of having cash in case of an emergency." That's fine and all, but then just use your credit card if the emergency happens! The one nice thing about paying off debt with a high interest rate is that paying it off is one of the best investments that you can make. Why? Because when you pay off a card with a 15% interest rate vs not paying it off at all, it's like making 15% on your investment (which is a great return if you didn't know)! Then after this is paid off, rebuild this emergency fund that you had.
This is an area where Dave Ramsey and I disagree. However, I'll be the first to admit that from an emotional standpoint his baby steps of saving $1,000 first and then paying off credit cards is probably a more effective approach. I've never had a problem with credit cards, so it's hard for me to relate to the addictive nature of them.