Establishing a stable financial picture is one of the main priorities for any individual. Of course, the process of achieving that is easier said than done. People have more expenses to pay over time. In fact, without proper financial planning, like how to pay off old debt, you may stay in a bad situation even after retirement.
Many people use tactics like debt consolidation to pay off their debt early and slowly to avoid such a situation. The method is excellent if multiple debt payments are due from multiple directions, like a personal loan, credit card debt, etc. You can smoothly get out of debt sooner with a debt consolidation plan.
Additionally, you can consult with a financial advisor to decide how to manage your expenses to avoid more debt. Of course, multiple debt consolidation methods exist, so study your options to decide your preferred route.
So, after much research, you finally use this method to manage your rising debt. What’s next? Has your financial situation become completely secure? What steps can you take for retirement planning post-debt consolidation that will genuinely help you?
What debt consolidation efforts do people typically take for retirement?
Before you start rethinking retirement after debt, consider this:
- What exactly is the connection between debt consolidation and retirement?
- Were the efforts you already took for consolidating debt good enough? Do you need to do more?
- If yes, what options are available?
Let’s take a refresher to answer these questions correctly. Then, we can proceed with post-debt retirement planning afterward.
What is debt consolidation?
Debt consolidation is the procedure of combining various debts into one. Then, the debtor can make consistent monthly payments at a relatively reduced interest rate. Typically, two types are common:
Credit card balance transfer:
This applies to high-interest credit card debt only. For example, you own many credit cards with different interest rates and repayment terms. Each month, you must make debt payments for all separate credit card bills, which form a considerable amount. Instead, you can opt for one new balance transfer credit card after consolidating debt from all the cards into it.
Generally, credit card balance transfer provides a 0% APR as an introductory rate, e.g., for the first year. After this period passes, a very high-interest rate will apply to your card. So, instead of paying off only the minimum payments, you should pay off a chunk of the debt during the introductory period with 0% APR.
Debt consolidation loan:
Alternatively, you can take a debt consolidation loan to pay off the debts you owe with the loan amount. Then, over time, you can pay off the consolidation loan you took at monthly intervals. You will get a lower interest rate in the revised plan, too. This makes it more manageable than paying off separate loans and credit card debt, each with different interest rates. So, you can make one monthly payment instead of multiple separate charges. Take guidance from a financial advisor if you have doubts about how to proceed.
These are the primary types of consolidation methods people typically take to get rid of debt faster. Both types are suitable for specific situations. For example, you can use a balance transfer method for only consolidating debts from multiple credit cards. People dealing with other kinds of unsecured debt, like unpaid medical bills, car loans, etc., cannot use this method.
What problems may you face from using debt consolidation to remove debt?
After using a debt consolidation program, you can stabilize your financial condition by the time retirement starts. However, there are some issues that you can face with this method for tackling debts.
- Maintaining a good credit score while paying off each monthly payment is hard.
- Hard inquiries from creditors will stay in your credit report for 2 years. So, taking future loans can become challenging for some time.
- It is only a permanent solution for debt relief if you complement the process with other methods, like budgeting.
So, yes, there are risks. But with proper planning and timely debt payments, you will likely have adequate retirement savings over time. Reach out to any certified financial planner for necessary guidance.
6 Tips to follow for improved retirement planning after debt consolidation
Typically, borrowers consolidate debts to make their monthly payments easier to handle. So, if you use this process for tackling credit card payments, student loan payments, payday loan payments, etc., you will see good results. But you must clearly understand what to expect from relying on this method.
For example, when you get a debt consolidation loan, will you get out of crushing debt faster with lower payments? Yes, you will.
Can you depend on this method as your primary solution to save more money for retirement? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Indeed, it is more straightforward to manage debt from different sources, like auto loans and high-interest credit card bills, with solutions like a debt consolidation loan. You can pay off the outstanding balance over a set period at specified intervals. But you may not have much money left over at the end of the repayment period.
Since the average interest rate is lower with debt consolidation, you will have an easier time paying off the creditors before retirement. Besides, you must take up separate money-saving processes in your retirement plan to ensure an excellent financial future after debt consolidation. Here are some examples.
1. Establish habits for retirement savings
One of the best ways to secure your retirement fund better and avoid more debt is to adopt better saving habits. For starters, you should have a more transparent plan for retirement. Then, go ahead with setting up a systematic budget. For example, consider your fixed income, belongings (liquid and illiquid assets), and additional income sources.
Also, count your household's overall expenses, including the monthly debt payments and tax implications. Based on that information, set up a budget. Plus, after completing the entire term of your consolidation loan, revise your budget to fit the changed income-to-expenditure ratio.
2. Adopt automation solutions like automated savings tools
Another simple step you can take after consolidating your wealth for debt repayment is automating your savings. This is extremely helpful in the long run, even after you complete all due payments.
For example, you can adopt some online savings automation tools available. This way, a portion of the debtor’s monthly income saves automatically into retirement accounts. You can manually set a specific percentage for the savings the tool will directly debit from your account. You can start this after your chosen debt consolidation program ends to avoid more debt in the future.
3. Apply for government-sponsored initiatives for financial security
Yes, debt consolidation helps manage your financial condition better after incurring many debts, from home equity to student loans. But different factors, like inflation rates, continue to rise. Statistically, the year-over-year inflation rate in 2022 reached 9.1%, which is the highest recorded in years.
Indeed, people have to pay off more taxes for things like dental and medical expenses. Plus, various services require higher payments, like medical and utility bills. People notice the influence of these costs more during retirement. This is because of more health issues that occur as they grow old. So, hospitalization charges, medicine costs, etc., are a significant concern, even after debt consolidation.
To avoid these issues, there are government-authorized plans for retirement that you can take. They are tax-advantaged, which is helpful. Available choices include:
Employees can keep a portion of their paycheck directly into an investment in this retirement plan. Special tax benefits apply to these contributions, which the employer can match.
This is a tax-advantaged type of investment account. It allows tax-free income for applicants during retirement. Strict income limitations exist; single filers with over $153,000 cannot contribute to Roth IRAs. But retirees with this account can make easy tax-free withdrawals.
4. Opt for a reverse mortgage
Reverse mortgages as a process can work to handle your debt repayments alongside the basic debt consolidation methods. After stabilizing your financial condition with a debt consolidation loan, you can apply for a reverse mortgage for additional income.
The process will convert the capital asset of the debtor into cash. To simplify, people take this loan against their home equity. The financial institution in charge of this account, e.g., will pay you the value in monthly installments, a lump sum amount, or a line of credit.
Unlike the traditional mortgage method, you will keep receiving the payments until you get the total amount. So, if you activate a monthly payment-based reverse mortgage plan, you will get consistent monthly payments during your retirement. After debt consolidation, you can use this method to earn extra money if you have no leftover savings afterward.
However, you are rescinding your house ownership to the financial institution with this method. So, you should use this solution to increase your retirement savings only if you own multiple properties.
Many people use this as a secondary source of income in their retirement accounts. Plus, they get the money in monthly installments. Thus, you can put it up for a reverse mortgage if you have a second asset, like a house with all mortgages paid off.
An alternative option you can try here instead of getting home equity loans is downsizing your property. For example, shifting to a smaller apartment instead of a big multi-acre house will save many expenses. You will have less maintenance costs, taxes, and such.
5. Search for secondary income streams
Most people have low savings after using consolidation to get rid of debts from mortgage payments, loans, etc. So, retirees rely on their fixed income sources like social security benefits. Reportedly, 59% of people are using the benefits they get from Social Security as an income source in 2023. However, while these benefits are fixed, the amount a person receives is typically small. This is due to tax-deductible rates, increased number of eligible applicants, etc.
Therefore, it would help if you looked for additional ways to get income during retirement. “Working part-time can help individuals supplement their retirement income," suggests Ben Lau, founder of Featured SEO Company. “It can provide a sense of purpose and social interaction, as well as help individuals stay engaged in their community.”
In the early retirement phase, most people can do side jobs like dog-walking, house-sitting, tutoring, etc. Problems can arise for people in later retirement age who have health problems. Thus, in the latter phase, the options for side income reduce. Yet, some sedentary options like house sitting are still available that retirees can do and earn from. With these measures, the retirees can "maintain a higher standard of living and potentially delay tapping into their savings," Lau adds.
6. Avoid applying for more loans.
Needless to say, you should avoid incurring more debt in the future. This is especially after using debt consolidation methods to remove previous ones. Do not apply for new personal loans at different interest rates. Instead, it would be best to be careful since you will have a fixed income during retirement.
Only pay for things you need instead of making sporadic purchases, and avoid charging on credit cards. Additionally, take personal measures to prevent overspending, like adopting a cash-only habit.
Indeed, solutions like debt consolidation help manage debt faster at reasonable interest rates. But you might have limited savings after spending all your time and funds on paying off the outstanding balance. Instead, take measures to save for retirement- start early.
It would help if you continued those measures even after your debt consolidation plan reached maturity. Besides that, apply for programs available for extra benefits post-retirement and prepare adequate retirement savings. Plan and proceed carefully.
On average, people in the 55-to-64-years age bracket looking to retire have around $145,740 in household debt. They may possess a negative net worth if they do not pay off the existing debt in time for retirement.
Currently, people are opting for late retirement. Common reasons for that include:
- Getting more time to pay off high-interest outstanding debts, like credit card debt.
- Enjoying employee benefits longer, like 401(k) programs where employers match the savings amount.
- Having more time available to invest in assets and grow additional income.
- One can wait out high inflation rates in the market.
Besides debt consolidation, people can opt for the following debt relief measures to remove debt.
- Debt Management Plans (DMP)
- Debt Settlement
- Debt Repayment Plans
- Debt Refinancing
Compared to these alternatives, debt consolidation is relatively simple to handle for most people. This is because one has to pay small monthly payments at lower interest rates than the original high-interest rates for multiple debts.
On the other hand, options like bankruptcy and even debt settlement are ‘last resort’ solutions. This is because they can badly harm credit scores. Compared to that, you will only see a temporary credit score drop using debt consolidation loans. If you get a balance transfer card instead, you will get a 0% introductory APR with the new card.
Given all the additional benefits like lowered interest rate, simplified monthly payment structure, etc., debt consolidation is the best method to pay off debt.
In practice, people can use their 401(k) amount to pay off high-interest debt types, like credit card debt, student loan debt, etc. However, due to higher expected interest rates here, this debt repayment amount is typically higher than what you save in a 401(k) retirement account. Cashing out the 401(k) to eliminate pending debt will leave you with limited savings.
Therefore, you should carefully consider your situation, like how much debt repayment is due, the average interest rate, etc. If the latter is high, do not prioritize putting money into your 401(k). Instead, pay off your owed debt first.
You will see lowered interest rates with a consolidation loan. So, you have to pay smaller amounts monthly to creditors- but that can extend your overall repayment period. Considering this point, the average time to pay off consolidation loans is around 5-7 years. Of course, this can differ from person to person, depending on their total dues.
With proper help you can
- Lower your monthly payments
- Reduce credit card interest rates
- Waive late fees
- Reduce collection calls
- Avoid bankruptcy
- Have only one monthly payment