With so much information online, in books, and from friends and family, there’s no shortage of financial “guidance” out there. You think this would be a good thing, right? Wrong! Have you ever heard the phrase “sipping out of a firehose” before? Do a quick Google search and you’ll be drowning in information, many opinions contradicting the next. Now you’re discouraged and right back where you started, not good!
Let this article serve as a basic framework for how to prioritize your financial needs.
These first two items serve as a foundation to your financial plan acting as a safety net for you and your family. Depending on your family structure, the documents and insurance coverages will vary. Talking to a financial planner will help you determine what you need, and what you don’t.
Estate Documents – A basic Will, Healthcare Surrogate, and Power of Attorney documents will get you started, and an estate planning attorney will help customize to your needs. Here’s a brief description of the main documents needed:
- Will – a legal document that outlines what happens to your possessions, care of your children, etc. should you pass away.
- Durable Power of Attorney – this person can make legal and financial decisions of your behalf should you not be able to.
- Healthcare Surrogate – designated someone to make healthcare decisions if you can’t make them for yourself.
- Guardianship – if you have children, this designates who takes care of them should you and your spouse pass away. If you don’t make a decision, the State will generally make this decision for you…I’d rather you be in control!
Life Insurance – I prefer term insurance as it’s far less expensive than permanent coverage for a much larger death benefit amount. If you were to pass away unexpectedly, I’m sure you’d want your family to be taken care of financially. The purpose of this insurance is generally to replace income and/or pay down debt.
Now we’re on to the fun part, saving money and building wealth!
Emergency Fund – This is to help you handle the unexpected speed bumps in life. The rule of thumb for a one income household is 6 months of fixed expenses, and 3 months for a dual income household. I like for this account to be different than the account you use to pay bills every month, this way you’re encouraged to think of it separately.
Retirement – Many folks won’t have a pension when they retire, so it’s important that they save throughout their working career as Social Security isn’t designed to be your entire retirement income. The alphabet soup of 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, etc. are all different types of retirement accounts that each offer certain advantages depending on your situation. Don’t be confused by this at all, just be excited to build wealth!
Remember, this is just a basic guideline for where to start, and what’s needed if you want to take control of your money. Investment details, tax strategies, charitable giving, and more are all taken into consideration when you’re working towards your goals, but remember they’re just details. The hard part is simplifying the process and getting started!
Karl Furno, a contributor to this blog, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Central Florida who strives to bring clarity and financial expertise to those who want to be good stewards of their money and make it work for them and for others. To learn more about Karl, follow the link below: