Most people know it's important to get out of debt before it can overwhelm their long-term finances. But after years of being able to take it easy with your debt, 2014 could well be your last chance to erase that obligation on relatively easy terms.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at why it's so important to pay off your debt in 2014. Dan notes that with rates likely to be on the rise this year, now's your last chance to lock in low rates on "good" debt like mortgages and fixed-rate student loans. Meanwhile, he points out that JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C), and other banks will be looking for ways to make up for lost revenue from mortgage refinancing activity, and rising credit card rates are likely to take a bigger bite out of those in debt. By taking care of credit card debt now rather than later, you can make sure you won't end up getting trapped by rising rates.

The next step after getting out of debt
Once your debt is gone, you can start getting your net worth into the positive column by investing. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns warrants on Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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