I previously have encouraged you to stop procrastinating and trying to copy someone else’s financial strategies and get started on your own plan. Now, I’d like to suggest ideas for getting started.
The first place to start is with an honest evaluation of your financial situation. Do you have a budget? Are you living within your means? Do you have an emergency fund, and is there in money in it? It’s great to have dreams of financial independence, but most of us are not going to win the lottery. Getting your financial house in order takes time, planning and, most importantly, self-discipline.
Don’t despair and think you are alone in your financial struggles. As I have mentioned before, 45 percent of all Americans have not saved a dime. If you represent that statistic, now is the time to break free and start moving toward financial stability.
Once you’ve completed your financial review, you are ready for the next step: exercising self-discipline. Stop spending, and start saving. Depending on your situation, this may mean learning not to overdraft your checking account, beginning (or adding to) your emergency fund and starting (or increasing) your retirement savings.
Too often people act like sheep and follow other people. Your financial strategies should be just that — YOUR strategies. What are your short- and long-term goals? Do you have debt? What is important to you? What kind of financial legacy do you want to leave? These questions must be answered honestly for you to develop a plan based on your unique situation. You also want to ensure your planning includes flexibility because, let’s face it, life changes. Things happen, and financial situations arise. Your plan should allow you to pivot.
Planning for your financial future is not just about how much money you have; liquidity also is essential. By liquidity I’m referring to your ability to access your money without penalty. All too often, I hear of younger people who put all their money into a retirement plan with very limited access and penalties that apply before they turn 59-and-a-half. There is certainly a place for these types of plans and the benefits they offer, but they shouldn’t be the only plan you have.
If your employer offers a retirement plan with a matching contribution, I encourage you to take advantage of the match. However, in general, I discourage my clients from contributing above the match. There are places that offer greater liquidity for those dollars. If you, like me, have concerns about rising taxes, you might want to seek advice on Roth options inside your plan so you can pay your taxes now before they go up.
Based on our current national economic situation, inflation and debt, all indicators point to an increase in taxes. Are you also concerned about rising taxes? You can take steps to mitigate potential increases. If you have money in the market, has the current volatile market negatively impacted your retirement savings? If you don’t have money invested in the market, is the volatility and fear of loss making you rethink investing? If you are experiencing these situations, you are not alone.
Instead of panicking, which can make the situation worse, I encourage you to seek advice from a financial professional. Many financial professionals, like myself, offer a free initial consultation that allows you to discuss your specific situation with someone equipped to help you identify which steps are in your best interest.
If you would like additional details on potential options, consider viewing the retirement page on my website. After all, it’s your money. Why not make the most of it?