It may have seemed impossible at times, but you’ve finally done it – you’re debt free! There’s a lot of advice out there about how to get to this point. You’ve budgeted, you’ve actually stuck to your budget, and you’ve cut back on things you thought you couldn’t go without. Now that you’ve achieved your goal and are finally debt free, what’s next?
First, give yourself a pat of the back! Getting to the point where you’re debt free is not easy, but you’ve done it. Maybe indulge yourself in one of the little things you’ve been living without while paying back your debt – takeout, anyone? Then, it’s back to business. Time to set (and crush!) some new goals, now that you don’t owe your hard-earned dollars to anyone but yourself.
Reset your Debt Free Priorities – and your Budget
Now that you’ve celebrated your big achievement, it’s time to start thinking about the future. Budgeting can sound boring, but you’re finally getting the chance to save for things you want to do, rather than paying people back for things you’ve already bought or done. Take a look at the money you were regularly setting aside to pay down your debt, and decide what you want to do with it! Thinking about buying a house? Or maybe just a new laptop? Now is the time to set your priorities, figure out how much you need to meet your goals, and start saving for something new!
Save for a Rainy Day
No matter what, now that you’re debt free, you should prioritize saving up a big emergency fund. A big chunk of savings (that you dip into only in case of a real emergency) will help you make sure you never need to go into debt again!
Most experts recommend that you save 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund, in case you lose your job, have a medical emergency, etc. Decide how much you can set aside every month (or every week!), and set up transfers into a high-yield savings account. Make it happen!
Save for Retirement
Retirement may sound far away, but – and you’ve probably heard this before – it’s never too early to start saving! Like an emergency fund, retirement savings may not be glamorous, but they’re definitely necessary. Keep things fun by setting savings goals, and rewarding yourself when you surpass them.
Saved your first $1,000 for retirement? Enjoy a dinner out with friends. Save another $1,000? Indulge in that new pair of sneakers you’ve been eyeing. With a savings plan, clear milestones to hit, and a fun rewards system in place, you’ll be ready to have fun and save for retirement
You have a budget in place, and you’ve started saving for the essentials. Now, it’s time to start making your money work for you! Start setting aside a little bit of money every month to invest. We could write a whole blog post (or more!) about how to get started with investing, but for now, we’ll refer you to this awesome guide to get started.
If you use these four goals as motivation to keep the momentum going after becoming debt free, you’ll be able to keep crushing the financial game. Once you’ve lost that big number to focus on, it can almost be harder to stay on budget and continue making responsible financial choices.
The most important thing not to do is to start spending like crazy, now that you don’t have that number hanging over your head. Treat your new financial goals the same way you treated your debt, and you’ll be taking killer vacations, finally getting that new TV, or making a down payment on a home in no time!
Any tips on what you did once you became debt free? Let us know in the comments!