I Paid Off My Student Loans–Now What?
Paid off your student loans? Congrats! Bidding goodbye to student loans is no small achievement. Now that you've cleared this hurdle, it's time to look forward to your debt-free future. Consider it as an opportunity to re-examine your financial landscape. So, what's next on the agenda?
With your improved financial situation, you can finally focus on things that matter to you — aspects of life you've put on hold — such as homeownership, entrepreneurship, personal growth, family expansion, giving back to society, and investing in additional education to increase your earning potential.
But before you start making plans, take a moment to reflect on your experience and consider your current financial picture. Without your hard work, sacrifices, and discipline in repaying your student loans, you’d still have that hefty bill recurring every month. What did you learn from the experience? Will you avoid debt in the future? Have you instilled frugal habits that you’re willing to maintain? Did you establish an additional source of income that you’d like to continue?
With your student loans behind you, assess your financial status and consider how you might reallocate monies previously designated for loan payments.
First Things First
Emergency funds aren’t exciting or fun, but they are important for your confidence in your overall plan. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, this is the prime opportunity for you to create one. If you have one in place, use some of your freed-up income to give it a boost so that you have an adequate safety net for unexpected expenses. Following that, you may consider prioritizing retirement savings by increasing your contributions to accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA. Talk with a financial advisor, such as the ones at Oatley & Diak, LLC, to discuss your options.
Buying Your First or Forever Home
With your debt no longer holding you back, you now have the opportunity to allocate funds toward saving for a down payment or establishing a dedicated savings fund specifically tailored for homeownership. You’ve reached an exciting stage full of possibilities — whether you're purchasing your first home, looking to upgrade to your dream home, or considering tackling a major home improvement project.
As you embark on this next step, research the local real estate market, explore mortgage options, and set realistic targets that align with your vision for your ideal home. Diligent savings and careful financial planning will be instrumental in facilitating a smooth transition and pursuing your homeownership goals.
Expanding Your Family
If starting or expanding your family is on your radar, you now have a sturdier financial footing to plan for this life change. Without a doubt, raising a family is expensive.
Assess your financial readiness for parenthood, including the costs of raising children, healthcare expenses, and childcare arrangements. Also, consider whether you will need a larger home or different vehicle to accommodate a growing family. Adjust your budget, establish an emergency fund for unexpected family-related expenses, and consider obtaining appropriate insurance coverage to protect your loved ones.
Starting a Business
If you've always dreamed of starting a business, now might be the perfect time to pursue that goal. Your newfound financial freedom can provide the initial capital or act as a safety net while you launch your entrepreneurial journey.
While you won’t want to quit your day job yet, you have some breathing room to take the first steps. Evaluate your business idea, conduct market research, and create a comprehensive business plan. Consider seeking guidance from mentors or joining entrepreneurial communities to gain insights and support. Remember to allocate a portion of your savings toward this endeavor while keeping a separate emergency fund for personal expenses.
Investing in Further Education
Even though the last thing that might be on your mind is more schooling, it may be advantageous to consider returning for a career-specific degree or certification. Continuing your education can be a smart move to boost your earning potential and career prospects. Before taking the leap, though, make sure that the financial benefits of additional education will outweigh the associated expenses.
Scholarships and grants aren’t as widely available for post-graduate degrees, but they do exist, so explore all of your options. And don’t forget about potential educational reimbursement benefits from your employer. Consider part-time and/or online degree programs that accommodate your schedule so you can continue to work while you pursue further education.
Bucket List Travel
Whether it's exploring exotic destinations, immersing yourself in different cultures, or embarking on thrilling adventures, consider indulging in that dream vacation you've always wanted to take. Be sure to budget and plan accordingly — to treat yourself.
Set travel savings goals, research affordable travel options, and consider creating a dedicated travel fund. By prioritizing and budgeting for your travel aspirations, you can make unforgettable memories and broaden your horizons.
You Deserve a Bright Financial Future
Again, well done! Paying off your student loans is a remarkable achievement that demonstrates your determination and financial responsibility. By carefully considering your next moves, you can continue progressing and pursue even greater financial confidence.
But navigating the complex world of personal finance might be difficult at times. Seeking advice from professionals who specialize in financial advisory services can give you the guidance and perspectives you deserve to continue on your path to financial confidence. Our firm is here to support you in making informed decisions, developing a personalized financial plan, and maximizing your wealth-building potential. You've come a long way, and we're honored to be a part of your road to financial confidence. Don't hesitate to contact us to set up a consultation.
John J. Diak, CFP® is the Principal & Client Wealth Manager at Oatley & Diak, LLC in Parker, Colorado. He assists clients through many difficult lifestyle changes such as business downturns, retirement planning, divorce, the death of a spouse, and family estate issues among others. Oatley & Diak, LLC is a family-run registered investment advisory (RIA) firm that provides clients with investment management and financial planning services in a hands-on, intimate environment. Learn more about them at oatleydiak.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.