Planting your financial garden
Money . . . it can provide opportunities and it can be the source of much worry. How can you reduce the stress you feel about money? One approach is to do some thoughtful planning.
When is the last time you made a list of your goals and dreams and made a plan for achieving them? Taking this step might feel big and scary, but the process really is energizing and exciting. Developing a plan can enable you to provide for your loved ones while helping to create security for your own retirement. When you take the time to evaluate your finances and your future goals, you will develop a strategy that will give you a sense of empowerment and control.
One way to get started is to set aside 30 minutes to brainstorm five to 10 goals. Once you have identified your goals, set a timeframe and the steps you’ll need to achieve them. These include estimating the funds needed to achieve the goals. And remember, you’re not alone. By all means, get some outside perspective from a trusted friend or relative, or better yet, find a financial planner you trust. This can be a valuable, long-term partnership.
If you have tangible goals, you can use them as an incentive to save. Cut out a picture of one of your goals (e.g. a relaxed retiree on the beach; a new car) and put it in your wallet next to your credit card. The next time you’re tempted to buy something, you’ll remember your bigger goals.
You don’t have to be wealthy now to ensure security in the future. Financial security can come one day at a time. Establish good saving and spending habits and then educate yourself further by exploring what investment vehicles best suit your goals. Don’t let the market scare you. Get educated on how you can use the downturn to buy low. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t walk away, but rather seek out experts to help you along the path.
And of course you should save for your children’s educations. But keep in mind that your own retirement should be a priority over your children’s college savings accounts for one simple reason: No one offers “retirement loans,” but there are multiple ways to finance a college education. Someone who has planned wisely for his or her own retirement will be in a sound financial position to help a child pay off a student loan.
For that matter, someone who has set goals for his or her financial security will be in a sound position for much of what happens in life. Really, there’s no better time than the present to start thinking about tomorrow.
Rebecca L. Bar-Shain works with families and business owners to help recognize opportunities and manage their financial resources to meet their personal goals. She is an advisor at Cedar Brook Financial Partners and a representative of Securities America Inc, SIPC and Securities America Advisors. Cedar Brook Financial Partners and Securities America are not affiliated.