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7 Financial Emergencies In Life That You Need To Know How To Deal With

7 Financial Emergencies In Life That You Need To Know How To Deal With

You may be surprised by some of the categories included, but when it comes to finances and emergencies the biggest thing between the two is the unplanned. When you make goals, you should include contingency plans and always maintain an emergency fund. When life’s twists and turns arrive, you will be better able to enjoy the ride rather than fear the consequences.

Job Loss – the financial emergency we often encounter first

From our first fast food working days to the jobs we plan to continue throughout our careers, job loss is one of the most prevalent emergencies–and losing a job is an emergency everyone should plan for and plan accordingly. Even a 16-year-old working his or her first job should plan to become unemployed. The reasons people lose jobs vary widely, but a simple plan involves saving at least one month’s pay. Depending on the responsibilities the individual has at the time, saving more money may be necessary. It all comes down to planning to cover the most immediate needs because even when working your first job, you need to prepare to pay your bills if you lose the job.

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Marriage – emergencies occur when combining debt

Believe it or not, marriage can be a financial emergency–especially if you marry into debt. You shouldn’t marry for money, but when you and your fiance (or fiancee) acted irresponsibly with money before you decided to partner for life, you need to plan for impending emergency. The best defense against marrying into debt is not to separate. Instead, make a plan to pay down individual debt and create goals for the short and long term. These goals can include things like paying off credit debt or building credit scores in order to get pre-approved for a house.

Divorce – separation costs more than partnering

The last thing lovers want to think about when marrying is divorce, but this financial emergency is a startling reality for many couples. The best way to plan without hurting your partner’s feelings or giving strength to pessimistic thinking, is to take steps to maintain the relationship. In addition to “planning” for divorce, just planning in general for financial emergency will protect you against this one.

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Natural disaster – financial emergencies ahead

How common are tornadoes, earthquakes or floods in your area? When you buy a house or even rent an apartment, keep the possibility of natural disaster in mind and buy homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. Watching the weather and planning for escape never hurts if you live in an area that suffers disasters often, but in addition to an underground shelter, you can shelter your finances by insuring them.

Bankruptcy –  avoid the biggest financial emergency

Bankruptcy is the cold, hard truth for many who take calculated business risks as well as those who simply enjoy their youth too much. When establishing credit, use the limits as a gauge instead of a hard line. If your credit card allows you to charge up to $5,000, you should keep a balance of about $2,000 at most. How much debt you carry is a calculation lenders consider, and many suggest your debt-to-credit limit percentage should be 30 percent or less. In “planning” for the financial emergency of bankruptcy, remember you cannot write off student loan debt. Keep that in mind if you spend your refunds at the bar.

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Retirement – will you have enough?

Most people who join the workforce intend to retire so they can actually enjoy the money they earned working hard at a career for so many years. The sad fact is that for many entering the workforce in 2014 and the years to come, social security may not exist when retirement arrives. If you fit into a category in which you cannot count on retirement or a pension, make sure to consult a financial adviser and create a plan to investing that can help protect your plan to retire. People live longer now than they did in the past, so long-term-care insurance may be a wise investment to protect what savings you accumulate while working.

Death of a spouse – planning for the hard times

Topping the list of things no one wants to think about is losing one of the closest people to you in your entire life. Apart from a parent, who you expect to lose before you die, and a child, who you never hope to lose before you die, a spouse’s death is purely catastrophic. Not only do you suffer emotionally but also financially. You can plan for death in a similar fashion to planning for divorce, by saving money in an emergency or trust fund. You can also take out life insurance to protect against the financial devastation that comes if your spouse’s income provided the majority of household income on which you need to live.

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In all cases of financial emergency, looking into the future and recognizing the potential for disaster is possible. Insuring, saving, and most importantly, planning are your best calls to action in recovering from any financial emergency–now that you know what the big ones are.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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