Financial security: It’s where the numbers and your money mentality come together to ensure a stable future.
Being financially secure means different things to different people. In one sense, it’s all about the numbers: having a steady income, a solid retirement plan, growing savings, and more than enough in your emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses.
In another sense, it’s all about how you feel about your financial situation—both your current situation and your prospective future situation. Do the numbers give you peace of mind? Or do they keep you up at night?
It’s likely something you’re considering more and more as you approach closing the door on the full-time employment phase of your life. Early on, you may have been more concerned with figuring out how to save for long-term goals and live within your means from paycheck to paycheck.
But as you get closer to retirement and your so-called nest egg is spread among a variety of baskets—whether it’s a business you own, real estate, investment and retirement accounts, and so on—your financial life can feel a lot more complicated. And it is! You may watch predictions about market volatility and wonder: Are my finances really as secure as they should be? Am I on track to meet my financial goals?
Here are seven steps to help you level-set your definition of financial security and make a plan for achieving it, starting with where you are today.
Start with a fresh snapshot of your overall wealth.
It’s a new year and a new decade. Do you know exactly where all your assets are and what they’re worth? This is a great time to take stock and get a clear picture of your overall wealth. Knowing where things stand today will inform your plan going forward.
Realign your expenses to optimize investments.
As you enter—and exit—different chapters of your life, your types of and total expenses change. Have you paid off your mortgage or are close to doing so? Are your children graduated from college and now fully responsible for their own financial lives? As you phase out certain expenses, talk with your financial advisor about the best way to put that cash to work.
Adjust your portfolio to match your risk tolerance.
Risk tolerance changes as you get older, so in order to make sure you’re tracking the way you should be for retirement, you should reassess your portfolio from time to time. A financial advisor can help you determine your level of risk and perform the necessary strategic asset allocation.
Account for every potential expense in retirement.
It’s highly possible that you’ll spend more, not less, than you do now once you hit retirement. To achieve financial security in retirement, make sure you’re accounting for all potential contingencies in your retirement plan: things like routine and unanticipated healthcare, long-term care, insurance premiums, taxes (income taxes, real estate property taxes, and personal property taxes), travel (the vacation kind and the obligatory kind, such as for attending funerals, weddings or visiting family), home maintenance and fees or other housing costs, children’s weddings, and helping adult children or grandchildren with expenses.
Ensure your loved ones are taken care of.
If being financially secure to you means your spouse and children will have what they need, then legacy planning (a.k.a. estate planning) must be part of your strategy. How will your wealth and assets transfer to your heirs? How can you maximize what you leave to your beneficiaries, and minimize their tax liability? These are all things that a financial advisor can help with.
Communicate about finances with your spouse or partner and children.
If you have a family, then financial security should probably be a family matter. Of course, every family approaches communication and finances differently, but it’s a good idea to consider how you might keep your family in-the-know about what’s going on in your financial life. Make sure they have contact information for your financial advisor and that the right family members know what accounts, documents, etc., they will have access to (via your legacy planning), in case something happens to you.
Keep focused on your long-term strategy.
At the end of the day, financial security is most likely to come by plotting a course and then staying the course—no matter what markets are doing and regardless of what is being predicted about the economy. Persevere to obtain both the wealth and the peace of mind that bring financial security.
Do you need help making your plan and ensuring that you’re on track to achieving a comfortable retirement? Talk to an advisor at Ironwood Wealth Management to get started today.