Spring is here, that season when a young man’s (or young woman’s) fancy turns to thoughts of – financial planning? That’s true, if you subscribe to the advice we found in this very recent column on the Motley Fool website. Financial columnist Michael Aloi says right now is the ideal time to decide on the financial goals you want to achieve by the end of 2019. We’ll look at his five goals and see if we agree.
Financial Goals to Guide You Through 2019
“There’s something special about the emergence of spring,” Aloi writes. “It’s a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to reawaken from the cold of winter and undergo a transformation of your habits and behaviors you want to leave behind.” (We understand what he’s saying, particularly after our unusually cold and snowy winter here in the Pacific Northwest.) Aloi goes on to suggest that, unless your financial goals are clear, any efforts at fiscal self-improvement are pointless. However, he adds, “Once you determine your money priorities, push yourself a step further to achieve more.” The idea is to exert ourselves, keeping our goals in mind, so we can end 2019 in better financial shape than when the year began.
Before we describe the five financial goals from the Motley Fool article, we should point out our view that Aloi’s advice, while sound, doesn’t really go far enough. If you’re a regular reader of the AgingOptions blog or listener to the AgingOptions radio program, you know that Rajiv Nagaich is a big believer in financial planning, but chiefly when it’s done as part of a much broader retirement plan which we call a LifePlan. “Piecemeal planning” doesn’t do the trick. Keep reading and you’ll see what we mean.
Financial Goals: Motley Fool’s “Big Five”
Michael Aloi tells Motley Fool readers that, if they accomplish these five goals, they’ll be “in the best financial shape of [their lives] in 2019.” Let’s consider his list.
- Make an Estate Plan: It’s hard to argue with this point – except that, once again, we believe the advice is insufficient. “Everyone should have a will,” Aloi states. “If you die intestate, or without a will, the state you reside in creates one for you, which is called probate.” According to the Motley Fool article, the biggest drawback for the probate process is that it doesn’t take into consideration your intentions. “By taking the time to draft a will now, you can think through who gets what and alleviate potential family squabbles over your estate.” For this and many other reasons, Aloi writes, “a smart financial goal for 2019 is to get [a will] into place.” We’ll have more to say on this below.
- Double-check Your Life Insurance: For young families, life insurance is extremely important to meet critical needs should a parent pass away. “For this reason, a smart financial goal is to double-check whether you have adequate coverage,” Aloi writes. “The point is to evaluate the needs of the survivor and see if your current life insurance is enough.” Here at AgingOptions we think a careful examination of life insurance options is essential as part of robust financial planning. Before you purchase or cancel a policy, especially if retirement is approaching, we urge you to get some good and objective advice from a qualified financial planner.
- Build a Cash Cushion: Again, we think this is common sense, but the number of people with little or no emergency savings is shocking. (This CNBC article from early 2018 reported that 60 percent of Americans could not cover a $1,000 emergency expense from their available savings accounts.) “Most financial experts agree it’s wise to have six months of expenses saved in an emergency fund,” Aloi says. “The point is to build this up before it’s too late and you encounter an emergency.” Makes sense to us.
- Pay Down Credit Card Debt: Credit card debt is a huge drain on household income. (This recent report shows the extent of the problem among seniors: average credit card debt for people 65 and older is over $6,300.) “Paying debt is costly,” says Motley Fool, “especially if interest rates keep rising like they have. Make it a priority this year to pay down debt, starting with any and all balances on your credit cards.” The article then advises replacing your credit card with a debit card tied to a checking account to avoid getting yourself back into a debt hole.
- Automate Your Savings: “No list of financial goals would be complete if it didn’t mention boosting your savings,” Aloi says. “Spring clean your financial brain by making financial goals for the year and commit yourself to accomplishing them.” If you’re still working, payroll deduction can be a helpful tool to boost savings, especially if your employer matches 401(k) contributions. Again, this advice is tough to argue with, especially as you approach retirement, but we think a more careful strategy is required. Our advice is to sit down with a financial planner who will work with you to develop a financial dashboard. That’s best way we know of to make certain you’re saving the right amount in the right places for the right things.
Financial Goals Should Become Part of a LifePlan
Like we said at the outset, all these goals are fine – but what’s needed is an overarching plan, especially as you approach retirement. Will your financial needs be met over the coming five, ten, twenty or more years? Do you have adequate legal protection in place, which is more than a simple will? Is your family fully aware of your hopes and desires as you age and will they be there for you? Have you considered your best options for medical coverage and your best housing plan, so you’re prepared for whatever the future may hold? If this seems like a lot to accomplish, we have terrific news: all these components are part of an AgingOptions LifePlan, a uniquely comprehensive, robust retirement planning strategy. Only AgingOptions offers it.
Why not make it your goal before 2019 gets much farther along to find out more by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar with Rajiv Nagaich? Let Rajiv show you the process and answer all your questions in a lively, information-packed session – then the next steps will be up to you, with no obligation and no pressure. Visit our Live Events page for a current calendar of seminars, and then register for the date of your choice. Let’s make 2019 the year you really begin the journey toward the retirement you’ve always dreamed of enjoying. Age on!
(originally reported at www.fool.com)