This is a guest post by Eliza Morgan who is a full time blogger. She specializes in writing about business credit cards. You can reach her at: elizamorgan856 at gmail dot com.
Most personal finance articles out there instruct readers how to dig themselves out of whatever financial ditch they may be in. Whether that means paying off debts, learning to cut monthly expenses, or setting up a simple budget, the emphasis is always on correcting spending behaviors to achieve some semblance of financial stability. But what happens when you've already accomplished your basic financial goals, like paying off debt? What if you got a job in which you suddenly make more money than you are used to? Here are a few tips for planning for what comes next.
1. It's never too early to start planning your retirement.
Retirement saving is one area of personal finance that is almost unilaterally ignored by those under 40. Once you've finally found yourself in a position in which you've eliminated all or most of your debt, it's really time to start thinking about saving more aggressively for retirement. Even if you think your 401k offered through your employer is already doing the planning for you, the costs of retirement is skyrocketing, and even employers admit that their 401ks are not sufficient. Start looking into an IRA account, as well as these other retirement options.
2. Put away extra money into an emergency fund.
It may seem like a hassle to set aside money for an emergency, especially when emergencies rarely happen. Even if you do not anticipate suddenly losing your job, there are millions more typical scenarios that can require several hundred or thousands of dollars on short notice. For example, what if your child falls sick and needs hospital treatment? What if you or your spouse are unexpectedly pregnant and must take time off from work for a long period of time? What if your car breaks down and needs substantial repairs? Build an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months of living expenses so that you can handle whatever slings and arrows life may throw your way.
3. If you have (or plan on having) kids, get serious about saving for college.
Just like it's never too early to start planning your retirement, it's never too early to start saving for your children's college. You can even start saving before your children are born. While it may seem unnecessary now, consider that in the future, college degrees will be much more expensive than they are at present (if you can even imagine that!). Also, consider that a bachelor's degree is now as standard and essential as a high school degree, it's likely that your children will need more than just a BA to succeed in many careers. Look into different college savings plans, like 529s.
4. Revisit your long-term career goals.
Now that you are in a position in which you can do more with the money you have, it may be time to begin serious research into your long-term career goals. Have you ever dreamed of opening your own business, going back to school to switch career tracks, etc.? You may have forgotten completely about these goals while you were still mired in debt. Now, you have the spending power to take the next step in your future. Don't squander it!
Of course, this all isn’t to say that you shouldn't enjoy life now that you have accomplished financial goals that take many their entire lives. You should certainly enhance your lifestyle now that you can afford to. At the same time, remember that planning for the future will ensure financial health for the rest of you and your family's lives.