YOU’VE BECOME DEBT FREE…NOW WHAT? FINANCIAL MOVES THAT MAKE SENSE
When you’re focused on getting out of debt, most folks get caught up in the process and don’t think beyond achieving that goal. If this happened to you – don’t worry! It’s happened to almost everyone who’s successfully eliminated large credit card debts. But the fact is, if you are consistent and committed to paying off your debt, it will happen. So then what? If you don’t have a plan for what to do with your money once your debt is paid off, it can be all too easy to start a cycle of over-spending that will leave you where you started. Here are several things you need to do once your credit card debt is paid off.
Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund
If you haven’t yet started to save for emergencies, you must do it now and deposit as much as you can into that account every month. If you already have an emergency fund, increase your monthly deposit. Why is this so important? It will help you avoid using credit cards to pay for a true financial emergency, such as major vehicle repairs, a new air conditioner, emergency medical bills, or everyday expenses in case of job loss. Remember, you just got out of debt. The last thing you want to do is get blindsided by an emergency and get right back into debt by having to use a credit card to pay for it.
Start Working On Your Retirement Options
The sooner you start saving for retirement the better, but it’s never too late. Look into the retirement savings options offered by your employer along with additional options such as a Roth IRA. If you’re self-employed, look into a SEP IRA, Simple IRA or Individual 401(k). No matter what how you choose to save for retirement, the important thing is to be consistent with your contributions and leave the money alone until you reach retirement age. You already know you have the discipline to pay off debt; apply that same discipline toward saving for your retirement.
Get Your Financial Life In Order
If you’ve managed to pay off all your credit card debt, there’s a good chance you’re already at least somewhat organized, but there’s always room for improvement. Set up as many bills as possible for auto-pay, so you never again have to risk paying late or missing a payment. Get all your financial documents in order and devise a filing system that works for you. Opt out of pre-screened credit card offers to minimize the temptation to overspend, not to mention cut down on annoying junk mail.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
You may have been getting by with bare minimum insurance coverage while working to pay off your debt, but now that you have more money every month, you may want to consider increasing your insurance coverage. For example, if you’ve been meaning to get life insurance but couldn’t afford it, now is the time. If you’re approaching middle age, look into long-term care insurance to add security to your senior years. Of course medical, dental and vehicle insurance coverage are all necessities, too.
Start Saving for a Major Purchase
If part of the motivation for getting out of debt was so you could start saving for a major purchase, such as a home or a new vehicle, it’s time to start making that dream a reality. Establish a savings plan solely dedicated to your goal and contribute to it regularly. You’ll be surprised by how quickly the balance grows.