You did it! After months or years of working hard to save and pay down debt, you are officially debt free!
Your hard work has paid off and now you can do what you want. You can buy all the things, take all the vacations, and splurge on everything, right?
Well, you could, but you might end up right back where you started. Living debt free means you won’t have anything holding you back from living the life you want. But unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall right back into living with debt if you aren’t careful. Here’s how to make sure you don’t fall back into old habits so you can be debt free for good!
Continue With a Budget
Just because your debt is gone, doesn’t mean you can spend all your money as you like. You should still be saving for retirement, future necessities or wants and current needs. A budget isn’t just for those in debt. Budgeting is good for everyone who wants to use their money wisely. By continuing a budget, you can see where you spend and where you could save or loosen up.
Build Your Emergency Fund
If you have your debt paid off, but no emergency fund, start one immediately! By having a few months of expenses saved you won’t have to worry about where the money is coming from when you need a car repaired or take a trip to the emergency room.
As soon you withdraw from this account, be sure to put the money back into is so you aren’t missing it when you need it. Unfortunately, emergencies are all too often the reason people end up back in debt.
Be Careful with Credit Cards
To keep your credit score up, you’ll want to keep that line of credit open. But that doesn’t mean you have to use your card. You can shred your credit card so you can’t use it. This prevents you from racking up credit debt. If you feel you need to continue using your credit card, don’t put more on it than what you can pay off. It is worth it sometimes to get the cash back or miles from a purchase on your card, but make sure you have that money in the bank so you pay off your statement every month.
Save, Save, and Save Some More
Most likely you became a tighter spender while trying to pay off debt. There is no need to do away with this learned habit. By only buying what you need and spending wisely, you can continue to save money for the future. Getting paid every month is not a license to spend all of it as soon as it goes in the bank. Being debt free does mean you could relax your budget and perhaps not save as much. That being said you should continue to save your money.
Becoming debt free is an awesome feeling I’m sure. You now have the financial freedom to do most anything you want. But, if you go back to your old spending habits, you could easily fall back into a pile of debt. Instead, continue to make your money work for you by saving and using your money wisely.
Are you debt free? How do you make sure you stay that way?
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