Is it too late to pay debt and save for retirement?

pay off debt and save for retirement

Is it too late to pay debt and save for retirement? It wasn’t until my mid 30s that I took paying off debt and saving for retirement seriously. Like many others I thought debt was normal. I mean, who doesn’t have a car loan or mortgage, right? Aren’t credit cards and “Don’t pay for “x” months” deals a smart way to keep money in your own pocket?

The answer to those questions is no, but we didn’t know that and so the debt racked up.

So in my mid 30s I began to budget. I spent hours searching online trying to find out how to get us out from under the mountain of debt we’d built. It wasn’t until I found Dave Ramsey’s Money Makeover that it all began to made sense.

Now, say what you will about Dave, I know not everyone is a fan. And I’ve since stopped adhering to some of his principles because they just don’t work for me. But man, was his no nonsense approach exactly what I needed. A swift kick in the behind. Lol

So I budgeted and tried to save, but while things were going okay, we still weren’t building wealth. I was still chained to my 9-5 and longed for freedom. This began the investing research.

Then life happened

Through a series of unfortunate events, my marriage dissolved. I was now a single income household in a high cost of living area. Completely in charge of my own finances now, I was able to control my spending and adhere to my budget in a way I’d never been able to before. So it was when I hit 40 that investing finally became a true focus for me. Up until then, through the marriage and separation, I’d simply (and thankfully) been pushing money into my work retirement plans without knowledge of savings rates, fees, rates of return, or even how much I would truly need for retirement.

Since focusing on investing, I’m happy to say that in the last few years I’ve seen wonderful growth. I’ve also researched and diversified into other investing areas and if all goes to plan, will be retiring in my early to mid 50s.

So is it too late to pay debt and save for retirement?

The answer is no.

I sometimes lament the lost years of investment compounding and get frustrated that I lost so much time due to lack of knowledge. But I know better now and so I do what I can. What’s done is done and all I change is what is ahead of me.

Not everyone is privileged enough to come into this life with the knowledge or resources to succeed, that was definitely the case for me. But we can work to change that and I’m finally doing that work. And it’s not too late to start paying off debt and saving for retirement. It’s never too late.

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