Generally speaking, people are living longer. Technological advancement and improvements in healthcare are the major driving factors that help us live beyond the normal life expectancy. We have a greater awareness to take better care of our health and are more cognizant about the foods we eat. If you haven’t asked yourself about the impact of this improved outlook on life before, then you should be doing so now: “Do I have enough money to live on for the rest of my life?”
Far too many individuals fall short of reaching their desired goal to “have a comfortable retirement.” Are you pondering the same? Adherence to a focused and disciplined financial planning strategy is more important than getting a certain rate of return on your savings, investments or retirement accounts. Are you putting away enough money in your retirement accounts? Are you maxing out your 401(k) salary deferrals? Do you have an IRA? Do you have a sound financial plan? When was the last time you had a comprehensive discussion with a financial advisor?
Every April, the tax man cometh and the tax man taketh away. Although it is too late to plan for the 2018 tax year, it does not hurt to start evaluating the need to review, implement and perhaps tweak your retirement savings plan(s). There are numerous financial advisors on Guam who can help you solve some, if not all, your financial concerns. It would make a great deal of sense to hire an advisor to work with you, your family and perhaps your business. Don’t be afraid to ask them if you are in a critical, stable or great financial situation.
Where should you start? Ask yourself if you have enough savings to cover 3 to 6 months of your financial expenses. Once your savings has reached the desired level, start looking at IRA’s for your retirement, a college savings plan for your children, a life insurance policy for your family — these are just a few items that should be addressed by every competent financial advisor.
Here’s a simple checklist you may want to start with:
- Set aside an emergency fund with enough for 3 to 6 months of expenses.
- Set up a short- and long-term plan for paying down and eliminating debt.
- Refrain from taking out loans or using credit for material things you don’t need.
- Look at your spending habits and make practical decisions to save versus spend.
- Analyze the need for life insurance and stay within a budget. Term insurance is usually appropriate for significant items like paying off a mortgage.
- Maximize savings, investment or retirement plans.
- Work with a financial advisor who has broad knowledge of the financial markets and is experienced in a multi-faceted approach.
- Periodically, monitor and review your financial plan and make changes as needed.
One more caveat to the entire financial planning: time is going to be your greatest asset and ally in order for you to succeed. The balance of stocks, bonds, cash or other alternative assets are just the methods to incorporate. Give yourself time to plan, time to grow, time to make changes and time will be on your side
— Frank Salas is vice president of ASC Trust LLC. He can be reached at [email protected].