The Final 4: Baby Steps to Shoot For

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Since November, 351 teams have been fighting to win the NCAA basketball championship. When the NCAA tournament started a couple of weeks ago, 68 teams were still in the running. Now we’re down to the Final Four.

Along the way, these teams— Kentucky Wildcats, Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans, and Duke Blue Devils—faced many ups and downs. Only one of them is undefeated, and none got through the season without hitting at least one roadblock. Most of them have several losses and setbacks that kept them up at night. Losing isn’t easy.

But they overcame that. And now they have the opportunity to achieve their goal of winning the title.

Sure, that’s cool and everything, but what does it have to do with you? And, especially, what does it have to do with you becoming debt-free?


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The way we see it, the final four Baby Steps are a great place to be. If you’re in the process of getting out of debt, they are your “Final Four”—your championship.

Once you reach them, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve endured the regular season and overcome setbacks along the way. You’ve gotten out of debt, dumped your student loans once and for all, and experienced what it’s like to start winning with money.

Regardless of where you are in the Baby Steps, keep your eyes on the goal and shoot for these final four:

Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of Household Income Into Roth IRAs and Tax-Advantaged Retirement Accounts

Now it’s time to watch your money grow. You’ve been paying off debt and saving, but now you get to invest! Let compound interest do its magic. 

Related: 5 Simple Steps for Successful Retirement Saving

Baby Step 5: Start a College Fund for Your Children

You haven’t forgotten about the kids, have you? Whether your kids are in high school or in a high chair, this is one extremely important step. When you’re out of debt, the last thing you want to do is make them go into debt by taking student loans out later. 

Related: 5 Ways Parents Like You Cash-Flow College (Without Sacrificing Retirement)

Baby Step 6: Pay Off Your House Early

Yes, you can actually own your own home outright! Amazing, isn’t it? Imagine walking barefoot through your front yard knowing that the grass beneath you is yours, not the bank’s! And how cool will it be when all of your mortgage payments can go toward investing and spending? That’s a lot of money!

Related: 3 Money Hacks for Paying Off Your Home

Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and Give

This is it. The pinnacle. To get to Baby Step 7, you have to truly believe you will get there. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. It’s a realistic goal that you can achieve. Once you get here, remember this is more than about “being rich.” It’s about being a giver. 

Related: Why It's Okay to Enjoy Wealth

So how do you get to the final four?

You need a plan, and that plan is your budget. With a monthly budget, you can focus on the money basics that will help you eventually reach those final four Baby Steps.

With EveryDollar, budgeting is easier than it’s ever been. You can create your first budget in less than 10 minutes and follow along with Dave’s Baby Steps right inside the budget tool! Learn more at!

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