Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm out of debt!...now what?

I received an email from a reader last week and I would like to respond to some questions she had. So often these days, the only kind of financial advice you see deals with getting out of debt. But what about those of you who have worked hard to save your money and have not spent more than you have in your bank account?

Dave Ramsey is a financial guru who has excellent advice concerning getting out of debt and saving for a brighter future. You'll find a link to his website here at The Dollar Dance. Check it out and listen to his radio show. Listen to him for just one week and your whole mindset of money will completely change.

Whether you have debt or not, one of the first things you want to do is set some money aside as an emergency backup. It is most often the unexpected and unfortunate circumstances that put us behind financially. Take note though, groceries and an oil change are not emergencies. Any expenses you expect, even potential car repairs, should be built into your budget. Some things that do qualify as emergencies would be an unexpected medical operation, a deductible from a car accident or an unfortunate death in the family.

After this is established, (assuming all debt is paid off) start contributing money toward a down payment on a house, or your kids' college funds. Also, it's never too early to start saving for retirement. If your employer offers a 401(k) program, take advantage of the matched contributions. A Roth IRA account is also a very good way to set aside savings every year.

I realize I just threw out a lot of terms and have certainly brought up more questions. Over my next few posts I will go over each of these things starting with setting up a budget. Until then, start listening to Dave and keep the questions coming!