On your way to developing and maintaining good financial health, you know you must accumulate emergency funds for a rainy day. A good financial plan often begins with saving three to six months’ worth of income and progresses into developing the capacity to meet your personal financial goals in the short term, as well as the long term.
A solid financial plan can play a big role in building financial security for you and your loved ones. And yet, are you regularly reviewing your finances? Doing so becomes particularly important whenever you reach a new life stage. New additions in your life such as a spouse, homeownership, or the birth of a child make reviewing your financial plans a necessity. You may need to give your finances extra consideration upon reaching the following milestones:
First Job. When you obtain your first “real” job, it’s likely that you will be presented with employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. It is never too soon to begin saving for retirement, and taking advantage of your employer’s retirement savings plan as soon as possible will give your account the maximum amount of time and potential to grow. The combined effects of time and compound interest are powerful, and the sooner you start, the better. Try to contribute enough to your fund to take full advantage of any employer-provided matching contributions.
Also, learn about the insurance provided by your employer’s benefits plan including health, life, and disability insurance. If your employer’s plan offers insufficient coverage, or if a plan is not offered at all, consider obtaining coverage independently. If you change jobs, pay attention to the benefits. Benefits will often vary greatly from employer to employer, and changes in insurance coverage and retirement options must be factored into your personal financial plan. For example, funds in your retirement plans might need to be rolled over as you continue to save.
Marriage. Weddings are special occasions that become cherished memories long after the bouquet has been tossed and the rice has been thrown. They are also events that bring about financial changes. After getting married, you may consider opening a shared bank account, owning property jointly, and sharing auto or possibly medical insurance. You may also want to begin saving toward the purchase of your first home and start preparing to raise a family.
Obtaining and/or updating life insurance plans to reflect a name change, if applicable, and to include your spouse as your beneficiary will help to ensure that financial goals will continue to be met. Review retirement plans and goals to establish a savings plan that aims to fulfill your retirement needs. Getting married will also most likely affect your tax situation. Think about the most effective tax strategies that will help with annual filings, as well as your long-term goals.
New Home or Refinancing. Buying a first home is a happy event. Now, the money you may have spent on rent will build equity in a place that you own. Whether you are a first-time homeowner or you are looking to refinance, research the various mortgage types available to find the one that best suits your needs. In addition, you will have to find a homeowners insurance policy that will suit your coverage needs. This is also a good time to review life insurance policies to assure that mortgage obligations will remain covered.
Children. With the added joy and responsibility of a child comes the need for extra financial security. Update your medical plans to include the child. In addition, review your life insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage amounts, and include the child on the beneficiary list.
For an infant college is 18 years away, yet the sooner the family starts saving, the better. A college fund that has many years to earn interest and contributions is ideal. Children may also change your estate plan. Writing or reviewing your will becomes especially important to make sure the child will be provided for and suitable guardians will be named.
Starting Your Own Business. If you leave your old job to start your own business, you will have to assume responsibility for previously employer-sponsored benefits. It is important to maintain retirement, medical, and life insurance plans as you continue building financial security.
Retirement. Now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may be considering relocating to a warmer climate and anticipating all of the adventures you will have there. However, your funds will still require attention as you continue to manage your money. Remember to maintain adequate health care coverage. Proper planning can help protect your hard-earned assets from being spent on potential medical expenses.
Perhaps one of the most secure feelings in life is knowing that you are financially secure and are prepared for whatever may happen. Through annual checkups you can assess financial goals, provide for your loved ones, and build for the future. As you approach each new life stage, you will find that additional consideration and planning are well worth the effort.