So why does it feel like you have so little control? How many people feel financially helpless? Like there is barely enough to make ends meet and never enough to prepare for the future?
78% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic hit.¹ That means most of us weren’t in control of our finances. We were just riding the coattails of a fabulous economy.
So what does it take to achieve financial control?
Here are some basic ways to grab the reins of your personal finances!
You should know how much you make. But do you know how much you spend and on what? Discovering that your bank account is empty at the end of each month is one thing. But figuring out where your money is going—that’s something else entirely. This knowledge is what will help equip you to create a strategy and take control of your life.
Start by figuring out how much you spend in total and subtracting that number from how much you make. Then, break down your spending into categories like rent, gas, eating out, entertainment, streaming services, and anything else that takes a chunk out of your normal expenses. It might feel like homework, but hang in there.
Goals are the key to creating an effective financial strategy. You have to know what you’re building towards if you want to develop the best steps and strategies. It’s okay to think simple. Maybe you’re just trying to get out of debt. Perhaps you’re trying to save enough to start a business or buy a home. Or you might be a bit more ambitious and have an eye on a dream retirement that you want to start preparing for now.
Figure out what it is you want and how much it will cost. From there you can use your budget to start cutting back in categories where you spend too much. You might discover that you need to increase your income to accomplish your goals. Map out a few steps that will move you closer to making your dream a reality.
Once you’ve built a strategy based on your goals and budget-fueled insights, the only thing left is to follow through and take action. This isn’t a grandiose, one-time maneuver. This is about little decisions day in and day out that will help make your dreams a reality. That means making small moves like meal prepping at home instead of eating out, or avoiding clothing boutiques in favor of thrift shop finds. Those little acts of discipline are the building blocks of success. You might fall off the wagon every now and again, but that’s okay! Pick yourself up and keep pushing forward.
It’s important to have each of these three components operating together at once. Knowing your financial situation and not doing anything about it may not do anything but cause anxiety. Cutting your spending without an overall vision can lead to pointless frugality and meaningless deprivation. And a goal without insight or action? That’s called a fantasy. Let’s talk about how we can implement all three of these elements into a financial strategy today!
¹ “78% Of Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck,” Zack Friedman, Forbes, Jan 11, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/11/live-paycheck-to-paycheck-government-shutdown/#3305f4cb4f10
There seems to be an endless stream of envelopes from companies all demanding payment for their products and services. It feels like you have a choice of what you want to do with your money ONLY after all the bills have been paid – if there’s anything left over, that is.
Not to rub salt in the wound, but may I ask how much you’re saving each month? $100? $50? Nothing? You may have made a plan and come up with a rock-solid budget in the past, but let’s get real. One month’s expenditures can be very different than another’s. Birthdays, holidays, last-minute things the kids need for school, a spontaneous weekend getaway, replacing that 12-year-old dishwasher that doesn’t sound exactly right, etc., can make saving a fixed amount each month a challenge. Some months you may actually be able to save something, and some months you can’t. The result is that setting funds aside each month becomes an uncertainty.
Although this situation might appear at first benign (i.e., it’s just the way things are), the impact of this uncertainty can have far-reaching negative consequences.
Here’s why: If you don’t know how much you can save each month, then you don’t know how much you can save each year. If you don’t know how much you can save each year, then you don’t know how much you’ll have put away 2, 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Will you have enough saved for retirement?
Truth is, most of us don’t have a wealthy relative who might unexpectedly leave us an inheritance we never knew existed!
The good news is that you have the power to spend less and start building wealth. That’s great, and you might want to do that… but how do you do that?
The first “bill” you pay each month is to yourself. Shifting your focus each month to a “pay yourself first” mentality is subtle, but it can potentially be life changing. Let’s say for example you make $3,000 per month after taxes. You would put aside $300 (10%) right off the bat, leaving you $2,700 for the rest of your bills. This tactic makes saving $300 per month a certainty. The answer to how much you would be saving each month would always be: “At least $300.” If you stash this in an interest-bearing account, imagine how high this can grow over time if you continue to contribute that $300.
That’s exciting! But at this point you might be thinking, “I can’t afford to save 10% of my income every month because the leftovers aren’t enough for me to live my lifestyle”. If that’s the case, rather than reducing the amount you save, it might be worthwhile to consider if it’s the lifestyle you can’t afford.
Ultimately, paying yourself first means you’re making your future financial goals a priority, and that’s a bill worth paying.
Well, unless you win the powerball or stumble upon buried treasure.
The simple fact is that retirement can last a long, long time and often be expensive. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American can expect a retirement of almost 20 years, requiring $1.2 million.¹
How long would it take you to save $1.2 million? Even if you could stash away your entire paycheck, it would likely take over a decade. Factor in the daily costs of living, and decades may become centuries.
Unless, of course, you leverage two simple strategies…
Strategy One: Maximize the power of compound interest.
Strategy Two: Start saving today.
These are time-proven strategies that anyone can leverage. And they can mean the difference between your savings running out of steam or lasting as long as you do.
Let’s start with strategy one: Maximize the power of compound interest…
Compound interest can supercharge your savings. Instead of taking centuries, you have the potential to reach your retirement goals just in time!
That’s because compounding unleashes a virtuous cycle. The money you save grows on its own over time.
But here’s where the magic happens—the more money you have compounding, the greater its growth potential becomes. Even a fraction of your paycheck can eventually compound into the wealth you may need for retirement.
Think of it like changing gears on a bike. Savings alone is first gear—good enough for going down hills or casual jaunts through the neighborhood.
But for reaching greater goals, you need more power. Compound interest is those extra gears—it’s an advantage that can radically improve your performance.
That leads straight into the next strategy: Start saving today.
The longer your money compounds, the greater potential it has for growth. To prove this, let’s crunch the numbers…
Let’s say you can save $500 per month. You find an account that compounds 10% annually.
After 20 years, you’ll have saved $120,000 and grown an additional $223,650 for a grand total of $343,650. Not bad!
But what if you wait another 11 years? Your money will more than triple—you’ll have $1,091,660!
The takeaway? A few years could be the difference between reaching your retirement goals and coming up short. The sooner you start, the greater potential you have to get where you want to go.
No more sporadic saving when you feel the panic. No more burying your head in the sand because you don’t know what the future holds. No more fear that your finances won’t cross the finish line.
These simple strategies can help you go the distance and retire with confidence. Contact me if you want to learn more about building wealth!
¹ “Retirement costs: Estimating what it costs to retire comfortably in every state,” Samuel Stebbins, USA Today, Feb 11, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/02/11/retirement-costs-comfortable-in-every-state-life-expectancy/115432956/
These words have been plastered all over the news and social media feeds for the last two years. And there’s no sign of it stopping.
As individuals and as businesses, we can’t control the economy.
But what we can control is how we respond to it.
The key is to stay focused on your long-term goals, and make sure your actions align with them.
Here are a few tips on how to navigate economic volatility…
1. Check your emotions. Fear is the natural response to economic volatility. What will happen to your job? What will happen to your business? What will happen to your retirement savings?
Know this—one of the worst mistakes you can potentially make is acting rashly on those fears. Volatility creates opportunity. Don’t lose out on potential because of headlines you read. Instead, assess your situation, what you stand to lose, and opportunities you might have.
2. Stay focused on your goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day noise of the news. But if you want to help your sanity—and make sound financial decisions—it’s important to keep things in perspective.
How far are you from retirement? What kind of lifestyle do you want in retirement? What’s your strategy for protecting against long-term losses?
If your goals are in line with your current reality, take a deep breath and ride out the storm. If not, it’s time to reevaluate where things stand and make adjustments as necessary.
3. Review your budget and financial strategy. Once you’ve gotten past the initial emotional reaction, it’s time to take a clear-eyed look at your budget and finances.
There are two critical components to examine here—your emergency fund and your debt.
If you have an adequate emergency fund in place, keep it intact. Resist the temptation to tap into your savings to cover short-term losses. You’ll need your emergency fund for different expenses, like emergencies.
As for debt, make sure you’re not overextending yourself with credit cards and loans that only might make sense when the economy is booming. If you lose your job in a downturn, the last thing you want is high-interest debt hanging over you.
4. Meet with your financial professional. It’s simple—a licensed and qualified financial professional can help stop rash financial decision making in its tracks.
A financial professional can help you see the big picture, keep things in perspective, and develop a strategy that can help you stay on track—no matter what the economy throws your way.
While economic volatility can feel frightening, it’s important to stay focused on your long-term goals. Having the right mindset and guidance can help you navigate a crisis with confidence.
The average household owes $6,000 in credit card debt alone, and the total amount of outstanding consumer debt in the US totals over $15.24 trillion.¹ It’s a burden, both financially—and emotionally. Debt can be linked to fatigue, anxiety, and depression.²
So it’s completely understandable that people want to get rid of their debt, no matter the cost.
But the story doesn’t end when you pay off your last credit card. In fact, it’s only the beginning.
Sure, it feels great to be debt-free. You no longer have to worry about making minimum payments or being late on a payment. You can finally start saving for your future and taking care of yourself. But being debt-free doesn’t mean you’re “free” to do whatever you want and get back into debt again. It means you’re ready to start building wealth, and chasing true financial independence.
For example, when you first beat debt, are you instantly prepared to cover emergencies? Most likely not. And that means you’re still vulnerable to more debt in the future—without cash to cover expenses, you run the risk of needing credit.
The same is likely true for retirement. Simply eliminating debt doesn’t mean you’ll retire wealthy. When you become debt-free, you can put those debt payments towards saving, leveraging the power of compound interest and more to help make your dreams a reality.
But now that you’ve conquered debt, that’s exactly what you can do! You have the cash flow needed to start saving for your future. You can finally take control of your money and make it work for you, instead of the other way around.
So don’t think of being debt-free as the finish line. It’s not. It’s simply the starting point on your journey to financial independence. From here, the sky’s the limit.
¹ “2021 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 11, 2022, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/
² “Data Shows Strong Link Between Financial Wellness and Mental Health,” Enrich, Mar 24, 2021, https://www.enrich.org/blog/data-shows-strong-link-between-financial-wellness-and-mental-health
But by definition, your job ceases to become your source of income once you retire.
Instead, you’ll need to tap into new forms of cash flow that, most likely, will need to be prepared beforehand.
Here are the most common sources of retirement income. Take note, because they could be critical to your retirement strategy.
Social Security. It’s simple—you pay into social security via your taxes, and you’re entitled to a monthly check from Uncle Sam once you retire. It’s no wonder why it’s the most commonly utilized source of retirement income.
Just know that social security alone may not afford you the retirement lifestyle you desire—the average monthly payment is only $1,543.¹ Fortunately, it’s far from your only option.
Retirement Saving Accounts. These types of accounts might be via your employer or you might have one independently. They are also popular options because they can benefit from the power of compound interest. The assumption is that when you retire, you’ll have grown enough wealth to live on for the rest of your life.
But they aren’t retirement silver bullets. They often are exposed to risk, meaning you can lose money as well as earn it. They also might be subject to different tax scenarios that aren’t necessarily favorable.
If you have a retirement savings account of any kind, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional. They can evaluate how it fits into your overarching financial strategy.
Businesses and Real Estate. Although they are riskier and more complex, these assets can also be powerful retirement tools.
If you own a business or real estate, it’s possible that they can sustain the income generated by their revenue and rents, respectively, through retirement. Best of all, they may only require minimal upkeep on your part!
Again, starting a business and buying properties for income carry considerable risks. It’s wise to consult with a financial professional and find experienced mentorship before relying on them for retirement cash flow.
Part-time work. Like it or not, some people will have to find opportunities to sustain their lifestyle through retirement. It’s not an ideal solution, but it may be necessary, depending on your financial situation.
You may even discover that post-retirement work becomes an opportunity to pursue other hobbies, passions, or interests. Retirement can be about altering the way you live, not just having less to do.
You can’t prepare for retirement if you don’t know what to prepare for. And that means knowing and understanding your options for creating a sustainable retirement income. If unsure of how you’ll accomplish that feat, sit down with your financial professional. They can help you evaluate your position and create a realistic strategy that can truly prepare you for retirement.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to promote any certain products, plans, or policies that may be available to you. Any examples used in this article are hypothetical. Before enacting a savings or retirement strategy, or purchasing a life insurance policy, seek the advice of a licensed and qualified financial professional, accountant, and/or tax expert to discuss your options.
¹ “How much Social Security will I get?” AARP, https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/questions-answers/how-much-social-security-will-i-get.html
Is racking up credit card debt or taking out payday loans financially dangerous? Of course! But they’re obvious. Hard to miss. They’re like a voice yelling into a megaphone “Hey! Don’t do it!”
But what about money mistakes that aren’t so obvious? Or even worse, money mistakes disguised as money wisdom?
Those may not devastate your bank account in one swoop. But they often go unaddressed. And over time, they add up.
So here are some money mistakes you might not have noticed.
Penny pinching. Sure, it sounds like a great idea in theory. But when you’re constantly scrimping and saving, it’s tough to enjoy life. What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t enjoy a reasonable treat now and then?
Plus, penny pinching may stop you from taking calculated risks that could save your money from stagnation.
So instead of extreme thriftiness, try moderation instead. You may find yourself far more inspired to budget and save than if you commit to complete frugality.
Under or over filling your emergency fund. A lot of people make the mistake of not having an emergency fund at all. It leaves them vulnerable to unexpected expenses and financial emergencies.
But when you have too much money in your emergency fund, it might be tough to make any real progress on your long-term financial goals. A good chunk of your net worth could be sunk into an account that’s not growing.
The solution? Save up 3 to 6 months of income in an easily accessible account, but no more. Use that money to cover emergencies ONLY. If it runs low, refill it.
Once your emergency fund is fully stocked, you can devote the rest of your income to building wealth.
Leaving goals undefined. It’s tough to achieve a goal you don’t have. Do you know where you’ll be financially in 5 years? 10? What are some things you’d like to save towards? A nicer home? An awesome vacation? A comfortable retirement? Not sure?
That uncertainty makes it easy to fudge good financial habits. It’s hard to see how lapses in your overall strategy can impact your big picture because you don’t have one.
So when it comes to your money, be specific. Very specific. Write out your goals and make sure they’re measurable. That way, you can monitor your progress and ensure you’re on the right track.
Be on the lookout for these dangerous money mistakes. They may seem innocuous, but they can add up over time and stop you from reaching your financial goals. Stay vigilant and steer clear of these traps!
You’re not afraid of emergencies. Between life insurance and your fully stocked emergency fund, you and your family are prepared for the financial ups and downs of life.
You’re not afraid of losing your job. You have enough saved for retirement already that you don’t depend on your paycheck. Besides, you may even have a side source of income (or three) to help make ends meet!
You certainly aren’t afraid to splurge on yourself. That’s right—you can spend your discretionary funds on the things you love and care about, footloose and fancy free.
You’re not afraid of your future. Why? Because you have a strategy in place, and you’re sticking to it. And you’re on track to retire with wealth instead of want.
Sure, there are metrics and benchmarks and numbers you should be concerned with. Ask a financial professional about what those would look like for you and your situation. They’re different for each person.
But the feeling is always the same—the end of fear, and a sense of peace. You’re ready to focus on the people and things that matter most.
Are you financially free? What steps have you taken to eliminate fear of emergencies, losing your job, treating yourself, and preparing for your future?
Whether you’re in your 20’s and paying off student loans or in your 40’s and trying to save for retirement, financial decisions can be complicated.
The good news? There are steps you can take to avoid mistakes and help your peace of mind when it comes to money management. Here are some of the most common financial blunders people make, and tips on how to avoid them.
Caring too much about what others think. This may be the tough love you need to hear. No one judges what you drive. Or the watch on your wrist. Or the size of your home. And the one-in-a-million person who does? They’re probably someone with WAY bigger problems than your 2006 economy car that still gets great gas mileage.
But that fear is powerful for a reason. It’s been carefully nurtured by TV commercials and Instagram accounts with a singular goal—to make you buy things you don’t really need.
Know this—you’ll gain far more respect by attending to your own financial situation than by desperately trying to keep up appearances.
Not asking for help when you need it. Let’s face it—mastering your finances is symbolic of becoming an adult. You’re supposed to know how to run a budget, save for retirement, and somehow have enough left over for a nice summer vacation. There’s tremendous internal pressure to act like you know what you’re doing.
But were you ever taught how money works? Did any teacher, professor, or mentor sit you down and explain the Rule of 72, the Power of Compound Interest, or the Time Value of Money? If you’re like most, the answer is no. It’s a cruel double-bind—to feel good about yourself, you must master skills no one has ever taught you.
This keeps you from asking for help. You get caught in shame, denial, and confusion. It’s hard to admit that you don’t know something that seems so basic, so essential.
But rest assured—you’re not the only one. And the right mentor or financial professional will listen to your story without judgment and seek to help you.
Procrastination. There are few things more daunting than staring at a pile of bills, an empty bank account, or an intimidating stack of paperwork. You know what you have to do. But it doesn’t happen because you’re so overwhelmed by the task ahead. And it’s especially daunting if you’ve never been taught how money works—you don’t even know where to start!
But nothing causes financial pain quite like procrastination. That’s because it causes exponential damage. Your bills pile up. Your interest rates rise. Your savings fall drastically behind, and you must save far more to catch up.
The antidote? Break tasks down into smaller, manageable steps. Maybe that means signing up for an online budget app or working with a financial professional. It might mean automating $15 per month into an emergency fund, or cooking one dinner at home each week.
It doesn’t matter how small the task is, as long as it helps put money back in your pocket and stops the scourge of procrastination.
In conclusion, making financial mistakes is something that can happen to anyone. By knowing some of the most common financial mistakes people make and what you can do to avoid them, you’ll probably have more peace of mind when it comes to money management.
It was no 2020, thank goodness. But there were enough ups, downs, and head scratchers to warrant a retrospective.
These are the top financial literacy stories of 2021.
Memes rocked the financial industry. You read that correctly—memes.
It began with struggling companies like Gamestop and AMC soaring in value. The cause? Rabid speculation fueled primarily by Reddit. There was little rhyme and even less reason to the frenzy, with devastating results—the boom became a bust that wiped out $167 billion of wealth.¹
And notice, that’s not even counting the rollercoaster year that cryptocurrency enthusiasts have “enjoyed.”
Memes also literally became hot commodities in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
What’s an NFT? In short, it’s an image that’s modified with blockchain. The blockchain makes the image a one-of-a-kind collector’s item since it’s possible to verify the image’s identity. Think of it as a mix of cryptocurrency and trading cards.
That means almost any digital image has the potential to become incredibly valuable. For instance, one NFT sold in 2021 for $69.3 million.²
And it makes sense why people have turned en masse to memes to build wealth. They don’t know how money works. They’ve never been taught how to build a financial legacy. And deep down, they know it. So when something, anything, comes along that looks like an opportunity to stick it to the man, they take it. The results are predictable… and often tragic.
The housing market caught on fire. Speaking of extravagant pricing, the housing market boomed in 2021. The numbers speak for themselves. Rent increased 16.4% from January to October.³ More dramatically, home prices surged almost 20% between August 2020 and August 2021.⁴
The housing market serves as a window into other forces impacting consumers. Inflation raised the cost of almost everything in the last half of 2021. And with the supply chain in chaos, it seems possible that prices will continue to rise in 2022.
That makes financial literacy more critical than ever. Families have less and less margin for error, and common milestones seem harder to reach. Without the right knowledge and strategies, building wealth may be increasingly difficult.
Financial illiteracy cost Americans billions. An annual survey by the National Financial Educators Council revealed that financial illiteracy cost the average American $1,634 in 2021.⁵ That’s a total of $415 billion.
Worst of all, that’s likely an underestimate. Think of what $1,634 could do if it were put to work building wealth in a business or retirement account. That’s the true cost of financial illiteracy—both in the short-term AND building wealth long-term.
What are your top financial literacy stories from 2021? Do you foresee any exciting changes in 2022?
¹ “Meme Stocks Lose $167 Billion as Reddit Crowd Preaches Defiance,” Sarah Ponczek, Katharine Gemmell, and Charlie Wells, Bloomberg Wealth, Feb 2, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-02/moonshot-stocks-lose-167-billion-as-crowd-preaches-defiance
² “Top 5 Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) of 2021,” Rakesh Sharma, Investopedia, Dec 15, 2021, https://www.investopedia.com/most-expensive-nfts-2021-5211768
³ “Biden’s next inflation threat: The rent is too damn high,” Katy O’Donnell and Victoria Guida, Politico, Nov 10, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/10/rent-inflation-biden-520642#:~:text=The%20Apartment%20List%20annual%20National,expected%20to%20continue%20for%20years
⁴ “Home price growth is finally decelerating—and it’s just the start,” Lance Lambert, Fortune, Dec 6, 2021, https://fortune.com/2021/12/06/housing-market-slowing-heading-into-2022/
Policies may have standardized language, but each insurance policy should be tailored to your needs as they are today.
A lot can change in a short amount of time. An annual insurance review is a good habit to develop to help ensure your coverage still addresses your needs.
Life changes, and then changes again, and again. There are some obvious reasons to review your life insurance coverage, like if you’re getting married or having a baby – but there are also some less obvious reasons that may change your coverage requirements, like changing jobs or experiencing a significant change in income.
Here are some of the reasons you might consider adjusting your coverage:
Depending on what has changed, it may be time to increase your coverage, supplement coverage with another policy, change to a different type of policy, or begin to move some money into savings or update your retirement strategy.
Have you updated your beneficiaries? Did you get married or divorced? Did you start a family? It’s time to update your beneficiaries. Life can change quickly. One thing that can happen is that policyholders may forget to update the beneficiaries for their policies. A beneficiary is the person or persons who will receive the death benefit from your life insurance policy. If there is a life insurance claim, the insurance company must follow the instructions you give when you assign beneficiaries – even if your intent may have been that someone else should be the beneficiary now. Fortunately, this can be remedied.
How long has it been since you first set up a policy? How long has it been since your last insurance review? What has changed in your life since the last time you reviewed your policies?
Your insurance needs have probably changed as well, so now is the time to make sure you have the coverage you need.
On one hand you may have some debt you’d like to knock out, or you might feel like you should divert the money into your emergency savings or retirement fund.
They’re both solid choices, but which is better? That depends largely on your interest rates.
High Interest Rate. The sooner you eliminate high interest rate debt, the better. Credit cards and personal loans can swiftly spiral out into crushing financial burdens. Even the highest income gets stretched thin if the interest rate is too high!
So if you fall into some extra cash and you’re faced with high interest debt, consider the peace of mind debt freedom would bring. It may be far more valuable than some zeros in a retirement account.
Low Interest Rate. On the other hand, sometimes interest rates are low enough to warrant building up an emergency savings fund instead of paying down existing debt. An example is if you have a long-term, fixed-rate loan, like a mortgage.
The idea is that money borrowed for emergencies, rather than non-emergencies, will be expensive, because emergency borrowing may have no collateral and probably very high interest rates (like payday loans or credit cards).
So it might be better to divert your new-found funds to a savings account, even if you aren’t reducing your interest burden, because the alternative during an emergency might mean paying 20%+ rather than 0% on your own money (or 3-5% if you consider the interest you pay on the current loan).
Raw Dollar Amounts. Relatively large loans might have low interest rates, but the actual total interest amount you’ll pay over time might be quite a sum. In that case, it might be better to gradually divert some of your bonus money to an emergency account while simultaneously starting to pay down debt to reduce your interest. A good rule of thumb is that if debt repayments comprise a big percentage of your income, pay down the debt, even if the interest rate is low.
The Best for You. While it’s always important to reduce debt as fast as possible to help achieve financial independence, it’s also important to have some money set aside for use in emergencies.
If you do receive an unexpected windfall, it will be worth it to take a little time to think about a strategy for how it can best be used for the maximum long term benefit for you and your family.
The typical household budget that covers the cost of raising a family, making loan payments, and saving for retirement usually doesn’t leave much room for extra spending on daydream items. However, occasionally families may come into an inheritance, you might receive a big bonus at work, or benefit from some other sort of windfall.
If you ever inherit a chunk of money (or large asset) or receive a large payout, it may be tempting to splurge on that red convertible you’ve been drooling over or book that dream trip to Hawaii you’ve always wanted to take. Unfortunately for many, though, newly-found money has the potential to disappear quickly with nothing to show for it, if you don’t have a strategy in place to handle it.
If you do receive some sort of large bonus – congratulations! But take a deep breath and consider these situations first – before you call your travel agent.
Taxes or Other Expenses. If you get a large sum of money unexpectedly, the first thing you might want to do is pull out your bucket list and see what you can check off first. But before you start spending, the reality is you’ll need to put aside some money for taxes. You may want to check with an expert – an accountant or financial advisor may have some ideas on how to reduce your liability as well.
If you suddenly own a new house or car as part of an inheritance, one thing that you may not have considered is how much it will cost to hang on to them. If you want to keep them, you’ll need to cover maintenance, insurance, and you may even need to fulfill loan payments if they aren’t paid off yet.
Pay Down Debt. If you have any debt, you’d have a hard time finding a better place to put your money once you’ve set aside some for taxes or other expenses that might be involved. It may be helpful to target debt in this order:
Fund Your Emergency Account. Before you buy that red convertible, put aside some money for a rainy day. This could be liquid funds – like a separate savings account.
Save for Retirement. Once the taxes are covered, you’ve paid down your debt, and funded your emergency account, now is the time to put some money away towards retirement. Work with your financial professional to help create the best strategy for you and your family.
Fund That College Fund. If you have kids and haven’t had a chance to save all you’d like towards their education, setting aside some money for this comes next. Again, your financial professional can recommend the best strategy for this scenario.
Treat Yourself. NOW you’re ready to go bury your toes in the sand and enjoy some new experiences! Maybe you and the family have always wanted to visit a themed resort park or vacation on a tropical island. If you’ve taken care of business responsibly with the items above and still have some cash left over – go ahead! Treat yourself!
There’s a significant financial mistake people in their 20s and 30s make. It’s simple, but if you’re young, it could change your financial future…
Have you made this mistake? Think you know what it is?
Young people don’t save enough. Not by a long shot. On average, Millennials have only saved $23,000 for retirement.¹ And a recent survey revealed that 65% of 50 year olds felt the greatest financial mistake of their 20s and 30s was not saving.² It’s no wonder, then, that the same group feels they have under-saved and under-prepared for retirement.
So what can you do if you’re a young person seeking to build wealth? Here are three ideas…
Automate saving every month. The power of automation makes saving easy. Saving stops being a conscious decision with which you may or may not follow through. Instead, it’s a background process you can set and forget.
Meet with a financial professional. They’re the guides you need for navigating the world of budgeting, saving, and building wealth. They can help you identify the goals and strategies you need to inspire your savings.
Focus on your own financial growth. Comparing your lifestyle to your peers is tempting, especially when you’re young. But it can be dangerous, especially if it causes you to spend more than you earn. Just remember—you may not really know the financial situation of your friends as presented on social media. People tend to just show the good and not the bad. Orient yourself towards improving your own situation and building your future.
So don’t make the mistake that so many have made. Follow the tips in this article and start laying the foundation of your financial future.
¹ “Retirement Security Amid COVID-19: The Outlook of Three Generations 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers,” Transamerica Center For Retirement Studies, May 2020, https://transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirement-survey-of-workers/tcrs2020_sr_retirement_security_amid_covid-19.pdf
² “Money Mistakes: Exploring the financial situation of people over 50,” Caring Advisor, https://caringadvisor.com/money-mistakes/
There are a lot of reasons why. It takes planning and self-control. You’ll have to ask yourself if you can fit every purchase into your budget. It means giving up something today in order to benefit tomorrow.
These are all true, but saving doesn’t have to be hard work. One way to make it easier is to automate your savings and then watch your balance grow!
Automation is such a powerful tool because it makes saving effortless. With automation, saving is now a default, as opposed to a decision—you’re always saving in the background.
For example, you might have a goal to save $1,000 for a vacation. If you’re saving $20 per week, that would take less than a year. And the same logic applies to larger goals—it’s a key strategy for creating retirement wealth.
First, decide how much money you can afford to save each month. Then set up automatic deposits from your main bank account into your savings account. That’s it! Every month, money will go straight from your paycheck to your wealth building efforts.
Now, you’re positioned to go about your daily business, confident that you’re preparing for the future. And it only takes a few minutes to do! If you want to discover more wealth building strategies, contact me. We can review your financial situation and create a game plan.
But that doesn’t stop “budget” from being an intimidating word to many people. Some folks may think it means scrimping on everything and never going out for a night on the town. It doesn’t! Budgeting simply means that you know where your money is going and you have a way to track it.
The aim with budgeting is to be aware of your spending, plan for your expenses1, and make sure you have enough saved to pursue your goals.
Without a budget, it can be easy for expenses to climb beyond your ability to pay for them. You break out the plastic and before you know it you’ve spent fifty bucks on drinks and appetizers with the gang after work. These habits might leave you with a lot of accumulated debt. Plus, without a budget, you may not be saving for a rainy day, vacation, or your retirement. A budget allows you to enact a strategy to help pursue your goals. But what if you’ve never had a budget? Where should you start? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to get your budgeting habit off the ground!
Track your expenses every day. Start by tracking your expenses. Write down everything you buy, including memberships, online streaming services, and subscriptions. It’s not complicated to do with popular mobile and web applications. You can also buy a small notebook to keep track of each purchase. Even if it’s a small pack of gum from the gas station or a quick coffee at the corner shop, jot it down. Keep track of the big stuff too, like your rent and bill payments.
Add up expenses every week and develop categories. Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to figure out where exactly your paycheck is going. Start with adding up your expenses every week. How much are you spending? What are you spending money on? As you add your spending up, start developing categories. The goal is to organize all your expenses so you can see what you’re spending money on. For example, if you eat out a few times per week, group those expenses under a category called “Eating Out”. Get as general or as specific as you wish. Maybe throwing all your food purchases into one bucket is all you need, or you may want to break it down by location - grocery store, big box store, restaurants, etc.
Create a monthly list of expenses. Once you’ve recorded your expenses for a full month, it’s time to create a monthly list. Now you might also have more clarity on how you want to set up your categories. Next, total each category for the month.
Adjust your spending as necessary. Compare your total expenses with your income. There are two possible outcomes. You may be spending within your income or spending outside your income. If you’re spending within your income, create a category for savings if you don’t have one. It’s a good idea to create a separate savings category for large future purchases too, like a home or a vacation. If you find you’re spending too much, you may need to cut back spending in some categories. The beauty of a budget is that once you see how much you’re spending, and on what, you’ll be able to strategize where you need to cut back.
Keep going. Once you develop the habit of budgeting, it should become part of your routine. You can look forward to working on your savings and developing a retirement strategy, but don’t forget to budget in a little fun too!
¹Jeremy Vohwinkle, “Make a Personal Budget in 6 Steps: A Step-by-Step Guide to Make a Budget,” The Balance (March 6, 2020).
Parents, you may be better positioned to build a legacy for your children than you think. That’s because if you leverage basic financial concepts and strategies, you might be surprised by how attainable a sizable inheritance is! Here are four ways you can help your child build wealth.
Save a nest egg for your child’s retirement. Do you have a million dollars lying around to give to your child? Probably not. But you have something that’s even more valuable—time.
What if the moment your child was born you put $13,000 in an account earning 6.5% interest? By the time they turn 67—even if you don’t add anything else to that account—it would be worth $1,000,000. That cash could make all the difference for your child’s financial future. To make the most of this strategy, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional before your child is born. They can help you make the preparations to put it into place.
Start saving for college. A college education is a huge expense, and it’s one that will only increase in cost. So what should you do to prepare for this future burden?
Start saving as soon as your child is born! The same principle applies—the sooner you start saving, the greater your potential for growth. Once again, collaborate with a financial professional before your child is born to maximize this strategy.
Adjust your emergency fund. Nothing can derail well-laid financial plans quite like an unforeseen emergency. And nobody seems to attract unforeseen emergencies quite like kids!
That’s why it’s important to create an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of income. It’s a time-proven line of defense that can protect you from dipping into your savings or going into debt to cover home repairs or midnight ER visits!
Create a will. Finally, it’s important to consider estate planning. Why? Because it ensures that your wealth and assets are passed down to your children. It’s a final and meaningful way to provide for your family, even if you’re not with them physically. Proper planning can also help shield them from the complexity of estate taxes and the burden of the probate system.
Leaving a financial legacy is far more doable than you may have imagined, and the time to start preparing is NOW. Collaborate with a licensed and qualified financial professional as soon as possible. They’ll point you towards practical steps you can take to start building wealth for your children today.
And – perhaps the most difﬁcult to believe of them all – the world hotdog eating record stands at 75 dogs in 10 minutes.⁴ I apologize ahead, but just visualize that. Seven hotdogs down the hatch every minute.
Here’s another number that’s almost beyond comprehension: 64% of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.⁵ You read that correctly. Substantially over half of Americans will reach what should be the finish line of their careers and have almost nothing to show for it. They’ll be forced to either downsize their dreams or trade a retirement on a beach for more hours in a cubicle.
Why share these hard to believe numbers? To motivate you – at whatever age you are today – that you can start saving more right now. If you want to have a million dollars at the age of 65, how much do you need to start saving every month? That depends on your current age. If you’re 25, you’ll need to save a minimum of $158.12 per month. At 35, the amount jumps to $442.00 per month. At 45, it’s $1,317 monthly. At 55, you’ll have to save $4,882.00 per month. And at 60, you’d have to save $12,913.00 every month.
How much do you need to save to hit your goals? What’s the right ﬁnancial vehicle to help you do it? Getting the answers to these questions right is absolutely critical. Don’t wait to ﬁnd the answers. Contact me, and let’s get to work on a strong insurance strategy.
¹ “The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics – Updated October 2020,” Dan Noyes, Zephoria, https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/
² “How Many iPhones Have Been Sold Worldwide? – iPhone Sales Analyzed,” Damjan Jugovic Spajic, Kammando Tech, February 11, 2020, https://kommandotech.com/statistics/how-many-iphones-have-been-sold-worldwide/#:~:text=The%20latest%20data%20shows%20that,have%20been%20sold%20so%20far.
³ “Marketing Metrics: Daily Searches on Google and Useful Search Metrics for Marketers,” Kenshoo, Feb 25, 2019, https://kenshoo.com/monday-morning-metrics-daily-searches-on-google-and-other-google-facts/#:~:text=Although%20Google%20does%20not%20share,That’s%20a%20lot%20of%20searches!
⁴ “Hall of Fame,” Nathan’s Famous, https://nathansfamous.com/hot-dog-eating-contest/hall-of-fame/
⁵ “21+ American Savings Statistics to Know in 2021,” Milan Urosevic, SpendMeNot, Mar 25, 2021, https://spendmenot.com/blog/american-savings-statistics/
You have a chance to make your life even better with this gift. However, it’s important to handle it wisely so you don’t create any regrets down the line!
Pay down debt. Receiving a sudden windfall is the perfect opportunity to take a chunk out of any credit card debt or student loans that are hanging over you. You may even be able to pay off your car or house!
The simple fact is that debt wears down your ability to build wealth. Using your inheritance to help pay off your loans can position you to start building wealth sooner rather than later.
Build your emergency fund. Having cash on hand can be a game-changer. It empowers you to tackle emergencies like a child’s broken arm, an unexpected car repair, or even short-term unemployment—without turning to debt.
If you don’t have three months of expenses saved, consider using your inheritance to create some financial peace of mind for your family by setting up an emergency fund.
Save for retirement. Now that you’ve covered your bases, you can start using your inheritance to start building wealth for the future. As soon as you can, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional to start developing a strategy that will make your money work for your future!
Fund your kids’ college education. College is pricey. Whether your children are very young or almost at university age, now is a good time to start saving for college. Once again, it’s best to meet with a financial professional to decide the best way to go about funding your child’s education.
Finally, have fun! You’ve done the hard work of getting rid of debt and building your emergency fund. Now that you have a college education and/or your retirement savings strategies in place, there’s no reason not to splurge on something fun with your inheritance! Just be sure that your fun doesn’t send you back into debt or dip into your emergency fund!
It’s a natural instinct to avoid tasks that seem overwhelming. But not preparing adequately for retirement can have serious consequences—you may find yourself rapidly approaching that time in your life with little saved!
Here are two simple, actionable steps that can help you overcome the intimidation of saving and move you closer towards your financial goals.
Save 15% of your income. This is a good rule to follow for the long term, but it may not be realistic all the time. Elderly parents living with you? A child going through college? If saving 15% feels impossible or overwhelming, start by setting aside something more manageable. Saving 1% of your income may not feel like much, but it’s far better than putting away nothing! And once you get used to saving, you might be surprised by how eager you are to increase that percentage.
Automate savings so they happen without any effort on your part. Set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking into your savings accounts. This way, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting or neglecting your savings. It’s helpful to schedule the transfer right after you get paid. This technique, called “paying yourself first”, results in your paycheck helping to build wealth for you, and not someone else!
It’s never too early–or too late–to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin, the more time your money has to grow and compound over a lifetime. And even starting closer to retirement is still better than never starting at all! Begin with these two techniques, and develop your strategy from there.