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Debts to Eliminate Before You Retire

Update Date: Apr 13, 2020 03:34 PM EDT
Debts to Eliminate Before You Retire
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As bad as dealing with debt can be when you're working, trying to manage it on a fixed income is even worse. After all, you'll need every dollar you can get to maintain your own standard of living. Why pay to finance that of your creditors? With that in mind, let's take a look at the primary debts you should eliminate before you retire. 

Student Loan Debt

There was a time when student loan debt stretching out over the majority of a career was unheard of. However, in a time in which a four-year degree can set you back some $200,000, paying off education loans for 30 years or more has become common. 

The sad part is much of this debt is unnecessary. In fact, it's entirely possible to get a college degree with next to no debt - if any at all. Many grants go unclaimed each year because people think they won't qualify. Apply for everything you can find - even if it feels obvious you won't qualify. Nobody ever says yes to a question they aren't asked. Do your first two years at a community college rather than a university to save on tuition costs. Take a part-time job to help defray costs, rather than going to school full-time. 

If you're already saddled with student loan debt, avoid the temptation to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan - or accept deferment and forbearance offers. These can make repaying your loans more expensive. The associated accruals of interest will increase the amounts you owe. 

Credit Card/Unsecured Debt

Compound interest applied to this type of debt makes it grow exponentially if you don't stay ahead of it. The principal picks up interest, which gets added to the balance, upon which interest is calculated the following month and added to the balance, upon which interest is calculated and added to the balance - into infinity. Like a living parasite, this type of debt will feed and grow until you find a way to kill it altogether. 

This can be a real problem when you're on a fixed income because there's only so much you can do in that regard. Consulting a credit counselor, or working with a firm like Freedom Debt Reliefwhile you're still earning, can make eliminating credit card debt and certain other types of unsecured debt easier when your finances are right on the edge. 

Mortgage Loans

Ideally, you'll buy your home while you're in your 30s (or before) and take advantage of a 30-year loan to pay it off in full. This will leave you with only taxes and maintenance expenses once you retire. 

In most cases, a home loan is the single largest line item on any family's budget. Having that obligation erased going into retirement relieves a significant burden - as well as reduces the risk of homelessness in your old age. 

The best way to pay off a mortgage early is add extra money to each payment earmarked for principal only. This will help lower your balance more quickly and reduce the total amount of interest you'll have to pay - assuming your mortgage has no prepayment penalties. Ask your lender if this is the case to be certain your payments will be credited as intended before you implement this plan. 

Car Loans

Ideally, you'll purchase the car you'll need to carry you into retirement about three to six years before you actually retire (depending upon the length of the loan you need to take). In doing so, the car will be paid off as you enter that phase of your career and you'll drive payment free. This will leave only fuel, maintenance, insurance and registration expenses - all of which will be reduced because of your age, the age of the car and the type of the car. 

Choose a model capable of supporting your lifestyle that also has a reputation for reliability, superior engineering, great fuel economy, abundant safety features and low maintenance. This will put you in a worry-free car with inexpensive maintenance and insurance costs to confidently motor into your post employment years. 

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