Should You Pay Off Debt or Save for Retirement?
Paying off your debt is classic financial advice. It’s also the simplest advice. You should pay off your debt as well as save for retirement. But is it the right advice? After all, paying off your debt has a time value. Similarly, you can also invest your savings for a higher return.
Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or a mortgage? If you do, you’re not alone. The average American household has 72,163 dollars in debt, according to a 2017 report by Magnify Money. That’s a lot of debt. If you are paying interest on that debt, you are also losing out on a ton of savings because of the time value of money. In other words, while you pay off your debt, your money can be working for you.
• Pay Off Debt
The answer to this question is a resounding yes, and there are two reasons for that. First, if you’re like most people, you probably have more than one loan. If you have multiple debts and pay them off, you can put your money toward your retirement savings instead of loan repayment. That way, you can build your retirement fund even faster and easier. Second, given what we know about the dismal state of many Americans’ retirement savings, paying off your debt can be a great way to build your emergency fund and save for the future simultaneously.
Paying off your debt or saving for retirement are two goals that often compete for your money. You may have to decide which one to tackle first and then figure out how to balance your other financial goals. If you’re already behind on savings, paying off your debt makes sense. The sooner you pay off credit card debt, the sooner you can save for retirement. If you have no debt and make the maximum contribution each year to your 401(k), it will take about 25 years for your savings to equal your pre-retirement annual income.
• Save For Retirement
The financial crisis has changed the way many people view retirement planning. Although your overall financial situation will indeed improve in retirement, you will still need to manage your cash flow and your portfolio to ensure you have enough money to live comfortably. As you get older, your savings will have to stretch further. A significant part of your retirement planning should focus on how best to allocate your assets to ensure you remain comfortable through your retirement years.
For decades, financial experts have preached the cardinal rule of retirement saving put 10% of your income into your 401(k) and never touch it. Many people took this advice, only to find themselves in their 60s with a smaller retirement fund than they’d hoped for and maybe a bunch of debt they wished they’d paid off in their 30s.
Owing money is one of the worst feelings in the world, whether it’s a credit card bill or a student loan, the feeling that a massive weight hanging over your head never quite goes away. And if you’re like most people, you’ll have debt for the rest of your life. The good news is that there are steps you can take to relieve some of that burden. Paying off your debt, whether through consolidation or with the help of a debt management program, is a great first step.
Having a retirement plan in place, which will help you develop enough money to live on during your golden years, is an important part of being a responsible adult. Having a retirement plan in place, which will help you develop enough money to live on during your golden years, is an important part of being a responsible adult. The good news is that it’s never too late to start—even if you’re in debt and behind on your retirement savings, there are still some simple steps you can take today to get back on track.
Your financial future is in your hands and not your employer’s, not Uncle Sam’s, and not your credit cards. The sooner you realize that you are responsible for building your financial portfolio, the better your chances of retiring at an age that suits you.