Published by Teresa Milner
A young lady was referred to me for my financial services this past month. We got together for lunch and by the end of our time together, she may have felt more like she was speaking to her mother. The more she shared her current situation, the more I realized she was taking care of everybody in her life -except herself. She has three young children that are counting on her. She has a significant other that owns his own business, and she runs it with him. It really opened my eyes to the need to educate young women on ways to care for and protect yourselves from the unknown. The earlier you make yourself a priority, the easier it will be to stay on track as your life progresses.
Research shows that those who plan end up better off than those who do not. This can be as simple as planning ahead for a trip to the grocery store, or as complicated as planning for your future wealth. It’s easy to “forget” an ingredient needed for a meal you want to prepare, and it’s just as easy to not get everything in place for a successful financial future.
Set goals. From daily goals to 10-year goals…know what’s important to you. Make them in various categories; i.e., personal, career, family, spiritual, health, financial. While you’re at it, make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Trackable (SMART)! SMART goals are much more successfully attained than general ones. Often making short-term goals is easier and more achievable for you. If you can accomplish your short-term goals, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your long-term ones. Write your goals down and refer to them on a regular basis. Get an accountability partner if that’s what you need. Keep in mind that you can’t win a race if there’s no finish line!
Here are four steps I recommend to take care of your financial health:
1. First and foremost, make a plan.
Most of us will spend more time planning for the holidays or a family vacation than we do for our financial lives. How do you know where you want to end up if you don’t know where you’re going?
2. Pay yourself first.
Are you putting money aside for your future? Make it a goal to save at least 10-12% of your income. If you haven’t already started — get started! If you need to, start small and build up your savings goals. Saving for your future needs to be a budget item, not an extra! It’s a necessity. Make saving a habit.
3. Live within your means.
In other words, don’t spend more than you make. Know what comes in and what goes out. Leave room for flexibility. Spending more than you make is very stressful, and thus, not healthy at all.
4. Know the basics of financial literacy.
Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA – term life insurance vs. cash value life insurance – mutual funds – understand your risk tolerance – taxation issues – pretax, tax free and taxable accounts – accumulation phase vs. distribution phase. Take the time and make the effort to become knowledgeable in personal finance – it will pay off throughout your life.
The story I share with you about the young lady hit home with me, as I recognized many of the same things I did to myself back when I was in her shoes. Had someone taken the time to sit down with me and talk about steps I needed to take for my future, it’s hard to tell how much of an impact it would have made. This is just a small sampling of why I do what I do. I want to help as many as I can have a healthy financial future, and the younger you are when getting the proper guidance, the earlier you can pursue your goals.