Master Seven Key Steps to Retire-Debt-Free

In order to retire-debt-free, we must learn to manage all facets of our finances. This should include a saving plan, debt-management, and retirement planning. Managing our finances and being able to retire without the burden of debt requires the preparation of a realistic and workable budget. At a minimum, your budget preparation must include a candid assessment of income, expenses and debt.

You need to decide when you want to retire. How much money will you need and how you will get the money that you need. You may decide that you don’t want to retire at all but just do something different. Retirement should be a time of emancipation from your life’s profession and a time to be able to do what you want. Whether that is another profession, a charity, or mission work or whatever you choose to do. However, you will not have the necessary freedom if you remain a slave to debt and not be able to retire-debt-free.

Most people have a mortgage on their home and owe on one or two automobiles. Many have outstanding balances on one or more credit cards. If you are near retirement age, you have hopefully retired the debt on your home and paid off the automobiles. A mortgage can be paid down more quickly by paying an additional sum each month to apply to the principal. I do not know where you are in preparing for retirement or what your financial situation is but the time to start is now.

The most onerous enslaving debt that anyone could have is credit card debt. People get into trouble with credit card debt because it is so easy to fall prey to the manipulation of the credit card companies. Many people become willing victims as a means to satisfy their passion to buy things right now. The inevitable result is a lifestyle where you are always paying off yesterday’s purchases instead of saving for tomorrow’s needs. This has to be reversed if you are to retire-debt-free.

Every situation is different and each of us has different needs. The following are suggestions to help you to retire-debt-free.

  1. Plan for tomorrow, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 NASB). Your plan should be based on a budget. The preparation of your budget must be based on the best and up to date information available, the services of a professional financial consultant are recommended.
  2. Establish the amount of your discretionary income, which is your net income less fixed obligations and charitable contributions. Live within that number and avoid impulse purchases. A basic rule is: if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
  3. Commit to a regular saving plan and extend it even into your retirement years.
  4. Eliminate credit card debt. If you have multiple cards with balances, pay off the one with the lowest balance first, cancel that card and move on to the next until you have eliminated the balances on all cards. Cancel all but one credit card and pay off the balance on that card each month. Maintaining one or at most two cards will provide credit for emergencies and help to protect your credit rating. Never carry a balance on any credit card.
  5. If you have a mortgage on your home accelerate the payment of principle.
  6. Commit to a financial lifestyle that excludes all consumer debt, if you can’t make a purchase out of your budgeted discretionary income for that month, don’t buy it.
  7. Most importantly remember to give God what is his. The Lord says, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3: 9 & 10 NASB).

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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