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So, you’ve paid off your debts, and you don’t owe any more payments on your credit cards or your car; or you’ve paid off your house and you won’t have to stress about that mortgage payment every month. Now what should you do? Go on a cruise, buy a boat or start saving for retirement?
The obvious answer is the latter. This is the perfect time to start investing in your future. Otherwise, you might be tempted to start spending all that disposable income — and this is exactly the attitude that can get you right back into debt again. Instead, here are some ways to be smart with your newfound income:
The first thing to do is to take stock of your finances and make sure no issues have happened in relation to your debt.
Credit score: The first thing to check is your credit score. Debt can drag down a credit score, especially if you missed payments when paying it back. If your credit score took a hit, now is the time to fix it. Credit repair companies might be able to help you remove some of the negative items you accumulated while paying off your debt, which could help raise your credit score. Or you can try a few of these tips to help raise your score.
Interest rates: Now that your credit score is fixed, use it to negotiate better interest rates on your credit cards. Doing this now could save you a lot of money if you find yourself in debt again. If your old credit cards won’t lower your rates, apply for a new credit card to start fresh with a lower interest rate. (Just don’t cancel your old cards; both the length that you’ve had your credit cards and the amount of overall credit you carry both weight heavily on your credit score.)
It’s never too soon to start planning for your retirement, and the sooner you start investing money in an IRA, the more you’ll accumulate by the time you retire. By talking to a financial planner, you can discuss the differences between a Roth and a traditional IRA plan, and decide which one is right for you.
Your dream might be to own a yacht, go on a world cruise, live on a horse farm in Brazil or save enough money to pay for your grandchildren’s college tuition. Whatever your dream might be, now is the time to start saving for it. Again, a financial planner can help you choose the best high-interest savings plan so you can save the money you need to make those dreams come true.
You never know when you might need money, and this is the perfect time to start putting away a nest egg for a rainy day. Once you’ve established your IRA or your dream savings account, be sure to save a small amount to tuck away in a special emergency fund. If you’re lucky and you never have to spend it, you’ll have it to enjoy later on.
The best way to handle your new financial freedom is to start planning in advance, say, about six months before you’re finally debt-free. Once you’ve got a good financial plan in place, then you can start investing your new income as soon as possible and you’ll be less tempted to start spending again. By disciplining yourself to be money-wise once you’re debt-free, you’ll be able to plant your feet firmly on the road to financial freedom.