- If nothing else, follow the mantra of saving first and spending second.
- People who put their goals in writing are more likely to achieve them than people who don’t.
- Pay off high interest debt first, diversify your investments, mitigate taxes, get your estate plan in order and teach kids about the importance of money.
*** Don’t forget our free second opinion service for families and close friends of our clients.
Many of you may not be aware, but there’s something called Financial Planning Week—and it’s happening right now. Let’s look at the financial literacy and awareness steps necessary to make smarter decisions about your money. Here’s my Top 10 list in order of priority:
- Save first, spend second. That is the only common denominator we see among successful people. Establish this habit right up front.
- Write down goals. We find that when people write down goals, they’re more likely to achieve them.
- Establish an emergency fund. Set aside 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses so you’ll have money available when things go bump in the night.
- Pay off all revolving debt. Credit card debt, with high interest payments, is a killer. Pay that off first.
- Diversify your investment portfolio. Make sure you invest in both U.S. and international markets as well as different asset classes, such as bonds, cash and real estate—not just stocks.
- Mitigate your income and estate taxes. This is the single most important area in which you can prevent money from leaving your household and accumulate more wealth.
- Establish an estate plan. After we die, we pass our estates on to our families or to other entities. There are many complex issues: who will serve as the power of attorney for your healthcare decisions, how your property will be handled, and a host of other issues. Get an expert to help you, and don’t wait until the last minute to do so.
- Establish a financial plan. Know what’s happening with your cash flow, your balance sheet and your taxes at all times. That way you won’t get caught off guard and can move forward with your goals.
- Seek out professional advice. Folks like us and other specialized financial professionals can help you with each of the items we’re discussing today.
- Teach your children or others about money. Teaching somebody about a subject area makes you better versed in that area as well.
If you’re really hitting all 10 of these steps, then congrats—you’re doing a great job. Most people are not. But this list (and Financial Planning Week) is all about making smarter decisions about your money.
To that end, we have a complimentary second opinion service for families and close friends of our clients. If someone close to you needs help with a financial issue, we’ll be happy to discuss it with them and walk them through their options at no charge.
Until next time, enjoy. Gary
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