|January 2016 Volume 9, Number 1|
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Personal Financial Planning in Your 40s
All experts agree that the surest way to have healthy finances your entire life is to create and follow a long-term financial plan. Here’s your step by-step guide to getting yours started.
Step 1 — Establish Your Emergency Fund
Plan how you will create an emergency fund, where you keep at least six months’ worth of living expenses safe and liquid. This account is not only meant for saving money for rainy days (losses incurred by investments, disability, disaster recovery, unemployment, etc.), but also for planned expenses. Proactively assess what big expenses will come your way in the next few years, such as replacing your old furnace or a down payment for a new home, and save accordingly.
Step 2 — Plan to Repay Your Debt
Make reducing and eliminating debt your priority — using all available funds to pay off debt.
Step 3 — Take Advantage of Employer matches
If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan, find out whether your employer offers a matching contribution. Many employers will match up to a certain dollar amount every dollar you contribute. Contribute as much as you can, because whatever you add simply increases because of the employer match. You can contribute up to $18,000 during 2016. Individuals age 50 and over can make an additional $6,000 “catch up” contribution.
Step 4 — Insure
Most people think they are appropriately covered with their current insurance policies, only to realize they’re not when tough times or a disaster bulldozes through their life.
Step 5 — Saving For Kids
You may have already started saving for your childrens’ college tuition. Although starting early is the best plan of action, you can maximize your savings by starting a 529 college savings plan. Some universities have prepaid tuition plans, which allow you to lock in current rates. (Of course, if you do this, your child will have to go to this university!) Families can also minimize college expenses by selecting lower-cost schools or dividing time between military service/community college and university.
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