If you watch Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman on television you will see them tell people how to get out of debt and what they need to do to become financially stable. Have you looked at your own financial portfolio to see what your future will look like as you approach your 60s and 70s? Will you still be working past traditional retirement age? And if you are, there is nothing wrong with that if it is your choice. Are you counting on Social Security and if so, what percentage of your retirement income will it make up?
No matter what you age or how much you have saved, it is not too late to put a plan in place for your future. Things can look really bleak, but as long as you do not give up and are motivated to do what it takes you can live out your dream. You have to take a look at your situation as a whole and follow the steps to reach your goal. It is going to take time, but as long as you do not delay you will eventually get where you want to be.
The first thing you need to do is get any financial obligations that are not paid current, up to date. There is nothing more stressful than collection calls and past due notices. Once everything is current, you need to get $1,000 safely tucked away so that you can have it for unplanned expenses. You should be trying to avoid using credit cards and the emergency fund will do that.
The next thing you want to do is begin paying off consumer debt. Consumer debt is the worst thing you can have. It has a high interest rate and it basically steals your dreams if you are carrying balances. If you have a lot of it, you may want to look into consumer credit counseling. If you are going to pay it on your own, you are going to want to get those interest rates as low as possible either by asking the lender to lower them or to transfer the balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.
Aim for having this debt paid off in 3 years or less. Once you have reached that point, it is time to work on am emergency fund of 6-8 months of expenses. This is what will sustain you if you become unemployed or are unable to work for one reason or another. After this is complete, the stress of financial instability should be gone for the most part. After that comes saving for retirement. How much you need to save depends on how old you are and how much you already have saved. Paying off your house should be a priority at this point also.