You’ve cleared that debt that’s been weighing you down for months, or maybe even years. Congratulations! That’s no easy task. Most people keep promising that they’ll get rid of debt, but they don’t. So you might be wondering, what’s next?
It’s easy to relapse into that frustrating debt cycle if you don’t plan for your finances. If you still can’t figure out how to enjoy your freedom without bruising your bank account, here are some practical things you can do after becoming debt-free:
Achieving such a substantial financial milestone is reason enough to treat yourself. You probably stopped buying Starbucks and avocado toast every day, or maybe a beautiful pair of shoes to pay off your debt, so why not celebrate?
However, you should be careful not to overindulge. Buy yourself something nice that doesn’t break the bank or go out to dinner. You could also do something that you’ve not done in a while.
Before feeling guilty about it, realize that by rewarding yourself, you’re giving yourself the motivation to continue living a debt-free life.
You shouldn’t allow yourself to fall into temptation as you have a good time living frugally.
Before buying something, ask yourself if your emergency fund is built up first, if you need that item, or if you can get a discount or deal on it.
If you’ve had a rough time overcoming temptation in the past, it may help if you avoid window shopping or buying stuff on credit. If you can’t afford it, put it on hold until you have enough cash for it.
Create an Emergency Fund
Speaking of an emergency fund, do you have one already? If not, now’s the best time to work on building one.
An emergency fund helps you avoid paying for real emergencies such as emergency medical bills, major car repairs, or buying a new air conditioner without using credit cards.
To get started on creating this fund, first of all, determine what counts as an emergency. Then, open up a bank account dedicated to the fund and decide how much you’ll be setting aside anytime you get some cash.
Save for Retirement
Whether you’re years away from retirement or right around the corner, you need to give it some serious thought now that you’re debt-free.
If you’re self-employed, consider establishing an IRA account to help build your nest egg. It exists in two forms; a Simple IRA and a SEP IRA. You could also go for Individual 401(k).
If, on the other hand, you’re on the payroll, looking into retirement alternatives offered by your boss plus additional options like Roth IRA is a great idea. Whichever option you pick, the goal is to accumulate as much as you can for your sunset years.
Apart from retirement, investing is a great way to make money work for you with compound interest, so you can have more cash for college, vacations, or any other financial goal.
Pro Tip: Instead of storing up your money in a simple savings account, go for an online high-yield savings account. Cash in a simple account loses worth due to inflation. Money in a high-yield account increases value since the interest rate provided is among the highest on the market and rises automatically.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what to invest in, consult a financial expert or seek advice from a friend.
Perform Car and Home Maintenance/ Repairs
You may have been so caught up in clearing your debt that you neglected your car and home. Do a complete rundown of your house and car’s status. Find out what needs some repair or updating and work towards achieving it. Identifying something that needs fixing early helps you avoid spending big on last-minute repairs.