Ask the typical American, "So, what do you want to do when you retire?," and you're bound to get any number of answers. After all, we all have lifelong dreams that we'd like to fulfill at that time. But change the question to, "So, what will you be doing when you reach retirement age?," and the answers you'll get will likely have less to do with satisfying personal wish-fulfillment and more to do with satisfying financial necessity.
At a glance
David L. Ramsey III
Bachelor's degree in finance and real estate from the University of Tennessee.
- Author of several books, including "Financial Peace," "More Than Enough" and the "Total Money Makeover."
- Featured money management expert on television programs such as "Larry King Live," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "60 Minutes" and "The Early Show" on CBS.
- Host of the nationally syndicated radio program, "The Dave Ramsey Show."
- Host of the national television program, "The Dave Ramsey Show on Fox Business Network."
- Creator of Financial Peace University (a 13-week program that helps people overcome debt) and Financial Peace for the Next Generation (an all-inclusive school curriculum that is currently in more than 2,000 schools across the country).
"You want to reach your golden years with financial dignity, and that will only happen if you have a plan," says Dave Ramsey, money management expert, best-selling author, and host of the nationally syndicated radio program, "The Dave Ramsey Show."
Ramsey says that a majority of Americans do not systematically prepare for retirement by investing. But investing for retirement is just one part of the retirement equation.
The other part involves eliminating debt before you reach age 65. To get Bankrate's readers thinking seriously about debt-elimination and the thorny financial challenges debt causes for the fiscally unprepared in retirement, Ramsey shares his experiences with callers and answers questions pertaining to debt.
Why is it imperative that debt be eliminated before you reach retirement?
It's imperative that debt be eliminated as soon as possible, for that then gives you control of your most powerful wealth-building tool: your income. It is very difficult to service debt when you're in retirement, and most people who have debt going into retirement are not people who have big savings going into retirement. So it creates a really catastrophic situation.
I recently talked with a 72-year-old lady who owes $80,000 on her house and she's trying to live on a monthly Social Security check of 1,100 bucks ... and what that says is that she's not going to be able to keep that house, not if she wants to live and eat.
This idea that a mortgage is forever is a bad plan; this idea that debt is forever is a really bad plan. Debt will only steal your golden years away from you.