Freshen Up Your Money Habits for Long-Term Success
Seven Steps to Get Your Finances in Order for Retirement| By: Randall E. White, CFP®, RICP®, CRPC®, CMFC®
Any time the season changes it brings with it a great opportunity to re-assess your current reality and revisit your plans for the future and long-term goals. For most people, envisioning a dream retirement is fairly easy – it’s not hard to picture yourself somewhere tropical with your toes in the sand, or hiding away in a cabin somewhere with your nose stuck in a book. Or perhaps your dream retirement is full of images of you baking with your grandchildren, surrounded by family. Whatever your dream retirement may look like, visualizing your future life isn’t the same as preparing your finances to make that dream a reality.
As we settle into fall, now is a great time to reconnect with your financial goals, get intentional with your investment strategy, and freshen up your money habits. If you’re looking to tighten up your finances, try using these seven steps below to get yourself back on track.
1. Revisit your goals.
The key to any solid financial plan is intention and purpose. Take time to revisit your financial goals, make any changes necessary, and recommit yourself to achieving them. Be as specific and detailed as possible – setting a goal is about more than choosing an arbitrary number. Having clear goals will lay the groundwork for establishing a clear path that you’ll need to follow to achieve those goals. So, think realistically about the lifestyle you envision for your future and how much that lifestyle will cost.
2. Show your budget some TLC.
It’s okay if you haven’t been following your budget as well as you should – now is the perfect opportunity to dust it off, revise it, and pledge to try harder to stick to it. Having a well-thought-out budget will help you as you establish financial goals and work to control your expenses. In addition to thinking about things like monitoring your spending or reducing your debt, begin thinking about how you’re going to replace your income once you retire. This may be as simple as setting your account up so that, in retirement, you begin to receive a monthly “paycheck” that comes from your investment accounts rather than your employer.
Making changes like this can help people who are used to budgeting around a consistent paycheck stay within their means, even in retirement.
3. Evaluate your investments.
For many retirees, the money they’ve made from investments plays a huge role in supporting them once they retire. Growing your investments requires you to pay attention to every seed you’ve planted. Even if you’re well-attuned to your stocks and bonds, it’s important that you don’t take a back seat with your investment strategy. Sit down and think about how you want your investments to work for you down the road. Do you have a cash flow plan in place for the future? Now is the time to reevaluate each of these considerations, including a review of your investment vehicles to ensure you are employing low-cost solutions.
For example, are you utilizing tax-deferred accounts like an employer-sponsored plan? If so, take a look and make sure you’re not leaving any money on the table from a potential employer match. Or, if you’re using taxable accounts, now is the time to review whether you’re up to date on any taxes you may owe on the income or capital gains.
4. Get a plan in place for Social Security.
With how heavily retirees depend on their Social Security benefits in retirement, it would be a significant mistake to not give your Social Security strategy any thought until you’re making your filing decision. Take advantage of this opportunity to think ahead, and consider each claim option prior to deciding how and when you want to receive benefits.
If you’re married, it’s even more crucial that you plan ahead, as the decisions you make about Social Security can have a negative impact on a surviving spouse should something happen to you. It may seem too far down the road but thinking about Social Security sooner rather than later can help you make a decision that’s in line with your financial goals and allows you to maximize your benefits.
5. Consider your legacy.
For some, leaving money for children, grandchildren, or charities when you’re gone is an important part of the financial planning process. These sorts of gifts are called legacies and should be considered sooner rather than later when planning for retirement. If you want to leave $250,000 for each of your children, then how you spend and save today will look different from what it will if you want to leave $10,000 to each of them.
Obviously, having enough money to support yourself for your entire retirement should take precedence over leaving a legacy. For some, it’s not an option, and for others, it’s not a desire. Planning to leave a legacy is a personal choice that you should make thoughtfully. If you do decide to leave one, then you need to make a plan for it and incorporate it into your larger wealth management strategy.
6. Plan for the Unknown.
As with most aspects of life, it’s impossible to know just what your retirement will hold. Because of this, it’s a good idea to create some flexibility for the unexpected within your budget. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy; it could be as simple as adding a bit more money to your rainy-day fund. Or, if you don’t have one yet, prioritize creating an emergency nest egg by a specific date.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend planning or strategizing for retirement if you don’t practice discipline with your finances. Freshening up your money habits means recommitting yourself to your financial goals – and doing your best to stick with them. Leave behind any behaviors that are impeding your progress and step forward into your potential. Make the changes that must take place to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Your Future is Yours for the Taking
Sure, dreaming about retirement and the future can be fun – but it will undoubtedly be more enjoyable to live it. Invest in yourself and your future by taking the time now to freshen up your money habits and focus on doing what you need to in order to make that dream retirement a possibility. Nobody can do the work except you; you hold the power to make your future whatever you want to make it.
Here at TriCapital Wealth Management, we are passionate about empowering our clients with the tools and knowledge they need to achieve their long-term financial goals. If you’d like to speak with one of our professionals about your financial goals and retirement plan, please contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!
Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC, member FINRA/SPIC. Advisory services offered through TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, LLC.