I’ve spent my life drowning in debt just like the typical American. Luckily, I’ve managed to get a hold of my finances with the help of my supportive spouse as well as simply moving up in pay grades at my job. According to my big plan I will get myself completely debt free this year. But it almost feels like I’m at the door of a plane about to jump. You’re excited to feel free but also experiencing moments of panic because freedom is such a foreign feeling. Who am I without debt? Without the scramble to make money to meet my pay off goals?
What should I focus on putting my money towards after I have nothing I have to put my money towards?
I can so relate. I got out of debt once then allowed myself to get back in. Maybe the struggle was more comfortable? This time though, I’m working it off with a plan then I’ll be where you are. Following to see responses. I’ll be jamming the extra money into my savings and retirement accounts because I want to retire in 5 years. But man I totally understand your feelings and questions.
Oooh. This is a good question! I had quite a few friends pay off student loan debt in the last couple of years and the question always comes up, “What next?”
First off, kudos! You’re about to accomplish something many Americans struggle with. You’re now in a great place to start looking at the things you always wanted and/or know you needed to do. For example, do you have an emergency fund established? It’s always great to have at least 6-12 months of living expenses saved. Most Americans don’t have even have $500 in emergency savings, so it’s wise to look at this as an area to build should anything happen!
Second, are there any short-term or long-term savings goals you have? Maybe you want to put monies toward travel, gifts, family, etc. Third, perhaps investing? That’s a great way to grow your money overtime. Fourth, if you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, giving back is a great to use your money and can also be budgeted for.
When I finished my student loan payoff, I decided to continue to maintain my monthly budget. I do my best to plan for everything, including savings, investments, travel, etc. This helps keep me from that feeling of “I don’t know what to do next!” because every dollar has a goal behind it even if it’s just the goal of “fun money” you can spend on the things you enjoy.
You’ve developed good consistent habits during your debt payoff journey – don’t deviate from it now! Once you’re no longer paying off debt, keep persistent and learn to grow your money through investments, side income, etc. Perhaps, more importantly, learn to keep your money. Create and maintain those savings goals, especially the emergency fund. Having a little bit of reassurance is never a bad thing!
First of all, congratulations on being debt-free! The next thing I would suggest is building up that emergency fund. The general rule of thumb is 3 months expenses if there are two income sources in your family and 6 months expenses if only one income source. Once you get to that point, have an automatic savings and investment plan. That could come in the way payroll deduction into a retirement plan through your employment. Feel free to ask me anything more specific if you still need the help!