Credit Card Debt Can Ruin Your Retirement

Credit card debt is a fact of life for most Americans, but many of us don’t think about the disastrous effect it can have on our future. The truth is, not only can it cause havoc with your current finances, credit card debt can ruin your retirement.

Credit card debt can ruin your retirement.

Credit card debt can ruin your retirement

You’re probably familiar with the concept of compound interest — it’s what makes building a healthy retirement nest egg possible. But that same principle is at work with debt.

Let’s say you’re the average American with $6,500 in credit card debt at a 14.5 percent interest rate. That means your estimated initial minimum payment will be $130 a month. And if you just pay the minimum, you’ll have to make payments for 26 years to pay off the balance, paying a whopping grand total of $8,938 in interest charges.

Wouldn’t it be nice to add that much to your retirement fund instead of paying it on purchases that have long since been cast aside?

So credit card debt, when you carry a balance for years, takes away from the income that you can save for retirement. But if you’re like most people, you may still want to split the difference – putting part of your disposable income into retirement savings and part of it into paying extra on your credit card.

Even “splitting the difference” isn’t always a good idea, especially if you’re paying a high interest rate on a large balance.

If your credit card has a 15 percent interest rate, but your IRA is only earning 8 percent, it almost always makes more sense to pay off your credit card debt ASAP, and then to put more money into your IRA. You’ll get more bang for your buck this way – by paying off the credit card as quickly as possible, you’ll save more interest than you would make by putting that extra money into retirement savings.

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. In this case, it’s the employer matching contribution to your 401(k). (By the way, a hefty employer match is about the only reason for putting money into a 401(k) instead of other investments.)

The only exception here is if your company matches part of your retirement savings. If you get a company match, you’re getting free money. Don’t pass it up. Contribute enough annually to your retirement account to get all of the possible company match.

Carrying credit card debt into retirement creates an even worse financial scenario, primarily because most of us will be on a fixed, limited income. High interest rates on credit card debt can ruin your retirement, so pay it down and only use the card for purchases you know you can pay off quickly.

Click here to read more about how credit card debt can ruin your retirement.

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