Spending down debt: Start retirement with a clean slate

This is part of our series on strategies you can adopt to free yourself from burdensome debt.

You're very wise to want to enter retirement debt free. Once you reach the point where you must learn to live on a fixed retirement income, you'll quickly know how brilliant you were to get your loans paid off first.

The basics of debt payoff are the same for near-retirees as they are for anyone. I recommend you use the snowball effect to get your debt paid down as quickly as possible.

You may want to reduce the amount you are saving monthly in your retirement accounts, such as your 401(k), and instead use that extra cash to pay down your debt more quickly. Now that you are near retirement there isn't much time for that money to grow anyway. But, if you do decide to take this step be sure to at least put enough into your employer retirement savings plan to get your full employer match. You don't want to give up the extra money your employer deposits into your retirement savings. Definitely check with your financial advisor before taking this step.