My wife and I have always had a need for two cars. However, we’ve always made it a point to never have two car payments at the same time because of what can be done with the amount of money that we save each month by only having one car payment.
Although it might be tempting to buy a new car once yours is paid off, you can actually put that money to better use by allocating it towards other outlets to help your financial future. There are several financially savvy things you can do with the monthly savings:
Build or Increase Emergency Fund
You can use the extra money to increase your savings. The first thing you should consider is if you have enough saved in an emergency fund. If you don’t have three to six months of expenses saved, then you would benefit by adding what you would have spent on a car payment to increase your emergency fund. Having emergency savings can carry you through a job loss, unexpected medical bills, etc. without having to go further into debt. (For more, see: The True Cost of Owning a Car.)
Increase 401(k) Contributions
A good use of the extra money saved by not having a car payment can be to used toward increasing your retirement plan contributions. If you have a 401(k) through your employer, make sure that you are taking full advantage of any employer-matching contributions.
Contribute to a Roth IRA
Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax dollars. Because of this, you will not pay taxes or penalties later when you withdraw your contributions. If you leave your account open for at least five years and are over 59 1/2, you can withdraw your contributions and earnings tax and penalty free after five years since your first contribution. Some exceptions to the penalty apply, like for a first time home buyer up to $10,000, as well as disability, death and more.
If you are under the income limitations set by the IRS, max out your Roth contributions, which are currently at $5,500 per year and $6,500 per year if you’re age 50 or older. You don’t have to contribute the full amount all at once, so you can setup monthly systematic contributions.
You even have extra time to contribute. The contribution deadline for the year is the tax deadline for the following year. For example, you have until April 15, 2019 to contribute to a Roth toward tax year 2018.
Pay Off Debt Sooner
If you have any credit cards or student loans, you can use the extra money you would have spent on a car payment to accelerate your debt payoff schedule, which will save you interest paid to your creditors and increase your monthly cash flow in the future.
Increase Vacation Fund
If you don’t already have a vacation fund, it is a good idea to start one and include the contributions as part of your budget. If you save for your vacations ahead of time, you’ll have the money when you need it without having to use credit cards or having extra pressure to come up with the money. Breaking it up into smaller amounts that you can put away each paycheck will make it less painful and more manageable.
If having a nice car is one of your goals, you can certainly plan for that. Just make sure that you’re not hurting your future by doing so and that you’ve considered all of the financial benefits of having only one or no car payment. (For more, see: Avoid the Monthly Payment Trap.)
Disclaimer: Investment Advisor Representative of Retirement Wealth Advisors Inc. (RWA), 89 Ionia NW, Suite 600, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (800) 903-2562. Investment Advisory Services are offered through RWA. Build a Better Financial Future and RWA are not affiliated.