Being financially healthy throughout your journey to retirement is just as important as being financially healthy once you retire.
For that reason and inspired by a recent U.S. News and World Report article,1 let’s explore a few situations when it may make sense for you to stop saving for retirement — temporarily, of course.
This information is especially relevant for some people during the pandemic, but these ideas really apply anytime, whether the economy is up or down. And, to make it abundantly clear, these are all temporary situations that may make sense to pause retirement savings.
1. To rebound from a health crisis.
During a health crisis it may be beneficial, or perhaps even essential, to pause saving for retirement. If you get slapped with medical expenses that your insurance company doesn’t cover, those bills have to paid out of your own pocket. And it’s safe to say that it doesn’t take long for healthcare bills to add up. If you have an ongoing relationship with a financial services professional, they’re going to be a go-to should you have a health crisis. They’ll be equipped to help you find ways to cover those dreaded out-of-pocket expenses without jeopardizing your future. If you aren’t working with a financial services professional, you may want to consider it.
2. To get rid of credit card debt.
If you’re currently saddled with credit card debt large enough that you can’t pay it off each month, it may be a wise move to take a break from saving for retirement so that you can get rid of your credit card debt once and for all. As the article notes, the interest you’re paying on your credit cards may very well wipe out the gains you’re enjoying in your retirement strategy.1 That means getting your credit cards under control will have financial payoffs beyond just reducing your monthly expenses. Consider this: If you have a credit card balance with an interest rate of 17% and your retirement accounts are earning 8%, you’ve obviously got a gap that you’ll want to address as quickly as possible.
3. To cover unexpected unemployment.
Losing your job is a terrifying prospect and if you find yourself in that position, you’re entitled to take the necessary steps to get through it. If you or your spouse is temporarily out of a job, you can use the money you were dedicating to retirement to cover household expenses. Then, when your employment situation stabilizes, you can get right back to socking money away for retirement.
4. To save to buy a home.
Using the money you were dedicating to retirement to save up a larger down payment or to cover closing costs may be an appropriate financial move that could help you build equity faster in a long-term asset — your home.
5. To build an emergency fund.
Having enough cash saved to cover unforeseen expenses is critical and many experts recommend having enough money to cover your expenses for six months to a year.1 A great thing about pausing for an emergency fund is that it has a clear endpoint. If you need to save $8,000, you know how to get there, and once you hit that number, you can pivot right back to bulking up your retirement savings.
Your financial health on your journey to and through retirement is important. Contact a financial services professional if you’d like some suggestions on ways you can stay financially healthy.