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If You Don’t Do These 12 Money-Savvy Moves Now, You’ll Regret 30 Years Later

If You Don’t Do These 12 Money-Savvy Moves Now, You’ll Regret 30 Years Later

No matter how big the income you get from your job or business, if you don’t know how to manage finances, you will never be able to move from point A to point B. Point A is where you are, money-wise, and point B is where you want to be. Before leaving your 30s behind, you should have mastered this bit of money wisdom.

Just to add more to your financial education, here are twelve moves you can do to take care of your treasure house.

1. Save while you can. When parenting necessities and mortgage costs rise, it will be hard to save money. You want to maximize the opportunities you presently have to stash away some cash, even little by little, so when the economically slow years will say hello, you won’t say mea culpa.

2. Plan for long term goals and identify your priorities. Now that your earning power is at its prime, grab the opportunity to plan on buying a house (that’s if you still haven’t), or think about how to implement college savings plan. When you start to have more expenses due to additional parental responsibilities such as the birth of another baby, school-related expenses for your children, or due to a bigger budget for a bigger car, etc., you’ll have lesser capability to put your plans into work.

3. Start a home business. As early as now, try to learn some new skills you can offer as a service and turn it into a business. You can also use part of what you have saved to start a business you can run from home. No, you don’t need to give up your job, not just yet. You need to grow it first and when it reaches a stage when it starts earning even more than what your getting as an employee, that’s the time you can think of slowly leaving work behind.

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Or better yet, start saving buffer cash, so when you finally resign from your job, you have money to spend while building up your baby startup. A business, something you are qualified to operate, is one of the best investments you can have, and a money-savvy move you can’t miss. Just make sure of 2 things: One, you are confident you can manage the line of business you’re planning to put up (because you’ve thoroughly studied it). Two, you’re passionate about the business.

4. Create wise and solid money habits. It’s high time to develop money habits that will help you weather financial storms for the rest of your life. Kerry Hannon, a personal finance expert who wrote “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+,” says that in her 30s, she used up all available credit on her retirement savings accounts and even saved a part of her extra income from freelancing for retirement. She told us, those funds have served her well over the past years as reserved funds to help pay for vacations, emergencies, and more. She says, she still saves apart from retirement accounts scrupulously in her 50s, too. She’s proud to say, it’s a habit she started way back in her 30s.

5. Prepare for contingencies. It’s always wise to prepare for any eventuality. The worse that can happen to you at this time and era is to have a financial bankruptcy. Now, to avoid this you can prepare for one. The thing is, if you prepare, you will have a bigger chance of not having one. Nice paradox, right? Well I think this is the coolest realization for today. But, how do you prepare for one? There are three essential ways: by saving, by educating yourself, and by investing. Saving is self explanatory, but what I meant by educating yourself is reading books, magazines, attending seminars/workshops and talking to mentors about finances. Heck, we take time and make efforts to learn to drive, why not spend time learning how to manage our finances!

6. Want to leave a job? Roll over your retirement. Most people change jobs in their 30s several times, seeking the right spot where to grow and elevate their value for future career moves. However, this can lead to a patchwork of 401(k) plans at a number of past employers. A wiser move is to re-invest them into an IRA or into your next job’s 401(k), tax-free.

7. Save for retirement. The best time to save for retirement is now that you are young and capable. If you start saving when you’re nearing retirement age, that will decrease your chances of accumulating enough funds to have a comfortable life in your twilight years.

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Recently, I read a book about financial planning by Francis Colayco, and I find it full of tips on how to retire with a bank full of cash. In a TV interview, he was asked why some high-income workers find it difficult to save money for retirement. Mr. Francis Colayco explains: “The biggest mistake people with money can make is premature acquisition of assets. They have enough for a down payment, they make the purchase. When asked how they will pay the amortization, they answer, ‘I’ll find a way.’ You can’t think like that, because the agreement you’ve entered into is an obligation that you have to pay whether or not you’ve made any profits. If you have no guarantee that you can pay, don’t make the investment, even if you have enough for the down payment.”

These unwise purchases will hinder you from saving for your future.

8. Get comfortable with negotiation. Learn and start to negotiate for higher salaries. A 52 year old certified financial planner who hails from Park City, Utah, Nancy L. Anderson, says while she has done many financially wise things in her 30s like saving enough college funds for her child, investing in rental property, buying a house, and setting aside 20% of her income, she realized she should have been bolder and asserted her right to get a higher salary. She said “If I’d negotiated a higher salary each time I changed companies in my career, I’d be wealthier today.” Most people move to other jobs approximately 11 times in their lifetime, negotiating for a better salary in those transitions could have accumulated me around $600,000,” she added.

9. Scope out cash for a down payment – prepare for a down payment for your first house. Even if retirement accounts are almost sacred, and many believe it’s not a wise decision to touch them, some financial planners consider it fair to use them as down payment for your first home.

You must justify this strategy by making sure you have enough time to replenish the accounts before retirement. In case you’re 45 or older, better not consider this idea. You must also be strategic with what account to tap. With a 401k, for example, you will incur a 10% penalty on early withdrawals and taxes. With an IRA, the U.S. government waives 10% of penalty on a distribution of even up to $10,000 for people buying a home for the first time. Despite this, you will still pay taxes on the withdrawal. The main point is, in your 30s you must find a way to make a down payment for your first home and look for ways to have enough consistent flow of income to pay for the amortizations. 

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10. Talk about money with your partner. If you’re married, working together with your spouse to be on track regarding finances and settling any disputes early on can prevent conflicts in the future. “People often comingle finances with their partner, and open communication is key. Make sure you talk about your finances and life goals with your partner, and align on how you will get there together,” Suzanna de Baca, Vice President of Wealth Strategies at Ameriprise Financial, suggests.

11. Set a goal for college savings. I know it’s a tough game. You are funding your retirement, and you are also demanded to plan and prepare for your kid’s college expenses. However, you can be practical by aiming to go to a public school for three years and two years at a private school and think of a way to pay the rest using current income. It will also help to have your student assist you in the expenses by encouraging him to take summer jobs. Use the college-cost calculator at Savingforcollege.com to manage scenarios like these. Sandy Block and Jane Bennett Clark, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine say, “To meet 50% of the total cost of four years at a public university, based on the current average annual cost ($17,131) and a 6% inflation rate for college costs, you’d need to save $222 a month for 18 years, assuming a 7% annual after-tax return on your college savings fund. If you covered half of only the tuition bill, you’d need to save $107 a month.”

12. Two salaries equals more taxes  It’s common, couples most often don’t realize one essential thing: they are taxed as a single entity. It’s true, the so-called “marriage penalty” has been diminished by legislation in the past recent years, so the obvious and easy way to reduce liability is for the husband and wife or both earners to save funds into tax-deferred accounts–IRA or 401(k).

Sources:

Business Insider.com, KIMBERLY PALMERU.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

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Financial Plan About.com,  

Money MSN.com, Sandy Block and Jane Bennett Clark, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine

Forbes.com, Mitch Tuchman, Contributor

Featured photo credit: *money explore*/John via flickr.com

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Anthony Dejolde

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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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