What to do as retirement nears

Pay off those credit cards

On a fixed-income retirement budget, every dollar counts. If you’re still paying for things you bought years ago — plus interest — that means you’re going to be living on less when you quit working.

Financial planners appear unanimous in strongly suggesting that any kind of credit card debt or other unsecured consumer loans should be paid off by the time you get to retirement.

A credit card reform law passed in 2009 stipulates that your monthly statement now includes a table illustrating how much you can save by paying more than the minimum.

Targeting the cards charging the highest interest rates is the recommended route. But sometimes it can help to simplify things and provide a psychological boost to clear off those with the smallest balances first.

Either way, make a plan and stick to it. (This credit card calculator can help.) Seeing your balance hit zero is a very good feeling.