If you had $5,000 in credit debt with zero percent interest for 3 years, would you pay that off as soon as possible, or would you make minimum payments for 3 years and put your excess money in a Roth IRA?
M: Make enough of a payment to make sure it will be paid off in 3 yrs. and put any excess into the Roth.
I would pay off the debt as soon as possible.
$5000 is about what you should have parked in a savings account for emergency expenses. So since you are already in debt, I would pay off the debt before I started saving.
At zero interest (and also assuming no fees), there's no reason to pay back the debt early.
Just make absolutely sure you will be able to pay it all off before the 3 years are up. Don't invest your only $5k in the stock market and find that on the day you need to pay the bill it's only worth $3k.
There's no rush to repay a zero interest loan – so long as you abide by the terms otherwise. Pay the minimum and keep more cash on hand for investing, like you're suggesting.