More and more people are noticing that their financial lives need more attention than they are giving it. It is easy to get into a routine of using credit cards to get what is needed when things are on sale, and figuring that somehow things will work out by the time the bill comes due.
Interest rates on major purchases can fluctuate, and sometimes all the best intentions go out the window, at it is time to face the cruel reality that it is time to regroup and find a financial strategy that will serve you and your family before things get out of hand.
When it comes to turning over a new leaf, be it financial or something else, human beings love for their gestures to carry their share of something symbolic. We like to choose a day that means something, like a birthday or the first of the year. But in the end, these are all stall techniques that don't serve anyone. If you must have some symbolism, consider starting your revised financial planning on National Financial Awareness Day, which happens to land on August 14.
Finding Our Way to Financial Literacy
While a handful of people were taught how to properly manage their finances while they were growing up, others have little background outside the occasional round of Monopoly. Financial management has not traditionally been required learning. so many have just made up their own strategies as they go along. But there are dos and don'ts as well as best practices. Getting a grip on as many of these rules as possible can lead to improved financial outcomes, wherever you might be -- whether your next step is to pay your current bills consistently, develop a savings plan for a rainy day, or make a calculated upgrade in your family's standard of living.
Good Financial Planning Today Could Make or Break Your Financial Security Tomorrow
One of the most popular ways that people try to stay on top of their finances is by saving for their retirement. Many employers offer retirement plans that match at least a portion of contributions that can be withdrawn after the age of retirement. These accounts are there to supplement contributions made to Social Security accounts. While some manage to scape by on their Social Security checks alone, it tends to be a tight squeeze, and an unexpended expense or sudden health issue can lead to difficulties.
The other side is that the small amount available for Social Security may not be as secure and set in stone as many people think. The Covid-19 pandemic was a major curveball, and for some people, it could lead to smaller Social Security checks than originally anticipated. It's important to plan accordingly.
It's Never Too Soon To Prepare
Even the most financially diligent people sometimes find that the preparations they made for a certain future can fall short. It is not always possible to have the carefree endless vacation that good retirement preparation sometimes brings. It is important to have an awareness of what a "Plan B" might look like so you can limit culture shock and still get by on a lower-than-expected income. Some options to consider include:
- Delaying Social Security benefits to increase the amount of each check.
- Work on becoming debt-free before retirement. Paying for the past is no way to spend your future.
- Consider relocating to save money - Some cities like Lincoln or Omaha, Nebraska, Little Rock Arkansas, or Sioux Falls, SD have a lower cost of living and a good amount of jobs available. Relocating after retirement is an option as well in States such as Washington, Florida, Nevada, Alaska, and others that have little or no taxes on income or sales.
Wherever you are in terms of your finances, there is most likely room for improvement. You may not be able to pull out all the stops this year, but it is important to stop and re-evaluate from time to time to see where you can do better in order to secure the best future possible.