You should start saving for your retirement as soon as you start working, but once you are debt-free, this should be one of your primary focuses. In addition to investing in any plans that your employer matches, you should also consider trying to bulk up your retirement savings by making smart spending choices. Once you are debt-free, you should have extra money to contribute to retirement, so start contributing more each month. Also, if you have money to contribute for the first time in your life, consider meeting with a financial planner who can discuss different retirement savings methods with you.
If you pay off all your debt, you should prioritize a hefty emergency fund. This is something that you should focus on even if you still have debt, because if you don’t have an emergency fund, you may end up using credit cards when a big problem comes along. Not having an emergency fund can seriously affect your finances even if you are debt-free, because if a big enough financial emergency comes around, using your credit cards without having the money to pay them off can quickly put you back in debt. How much you should save will depend on your own personal finances, but you should try to have at least enough to handle six to eight months worth of bills — and more, if you can. Even you are debt-free, you should usually focus on your emergency fund first.
Being debt-free is excellent, and if you have achieved this state, you probably worked hard to get there. In addition to having an emergency fund, you will need to keep making wise financial decisions once you are debt-free or you will end up back in debt. As tempting as it can be to use your newly available cash, it isn’t wise to spend it frivolously. Once you have an emergency fund and your retirement savings is in control, you should start thinking about using your extra money to invest in other ways. Stocks might be a good choice, but you can look at other options too. It is a smart idea to have savings in reserve that you don’t use regularly, in addition to your retirement savings and your emergency fund.