Life doesn’t come with instructions for money management. While every life is different, it’s wise to have an idea of what to do when to make sure you’re being as responsible with your finances as possible. Here are some things to bear in mind throughout life, from your twenties through your sixties.
You should be making your own money and paying your own bills. Sever any remaining parental money strings and begin taking responsibility for your own finances.
- Work at learning what it means to live within your means and do that.
- Establish good credit for the future by obtaining a credit card and paying all bills on time.
- Develop a financial plan which includes short, medium and long-term goals.
- Begin saving and investing toward your financial goals, even home ownership.
- Begin saving up an emergency fund to cover six months of living expenses.
Now that you’ve had some experience handling your money, begin taking care to protect your assets and save for the things you want in your life.
- Insure your property and your life.
- Make a will and a living will.
- Increase your investment contributions.
- Contribute the maximum to your 401(k).
- Keep your education and job skills honed.
- If you change jobs, (and you’re likely to in your 30s) don’t cash out your employer-sponsored retirement plan. Consolidate it into a traditional IRA or roll it into the 401(k) plan at your new job.
- Begin saving in earnest for your children’s college education.
- Develop a realistic budget and stick to it.
- Whittle down debt, including student loans and credit cards.
By now you’re comfortable handling your money and allocating your resources where they best benefit you.
- Diversify your investments to maximize returns.
- Review and update your will.
- Reassess insurance to fit your current situation.
- Come up with the concrete amount you need to save in order to retire.
- Appoint a power of attorney to act on your financial behalf and a health care proxy to act on your behalf medically.
You’re now seriously considering your retirement finances.
- Consider a long term health care policy. A major illness can easily wipe out your savings.
- When you’re over 50, you can make catch-up contributions to your workplace savings plan to fill in any gaps if necessary.
- Try a ‘dry run’ of your retirement income plan to determine what it’s really like to live on the amount you’ve set aside for your future. If that proves unacceptable, you’ve still a decade to adjust your investments and savings to increase the finances that will be available to you in retirement.
You’ll most likely retire in this decade of your life so it’s time to make some important decisions about accessing the money you’ve worked so long and hard to amass.
- Determine how you’ll access your retirement finances, whether it be to receive it in regularly scheduled withdrawals or in lump sums.
- Decide when you’ll begin collecting Social Security benefits. By holding off taking your Social Security, you will receive more money when you do begin collecting benefits.
- Keep as much of your original nest egg invested wisely and earning interest for you as long as you can to help as a hedge against inflation. Keep your money continuously growing to ensure you remain comfortable in your retirement.
Money management is a lifelong process. While few people have the luxury of being able to meet every financial milestone without a hitch, the better the job we do of managing our finances according to this timeline, the more money we’ll have at our disposal when we retire.