Financial Planning Strategies for You!
2020 has brought much change in the world and perhaps some change in your individual life as well. Our Bedell Frazier financial planning team is here to assist as you navigate through the stages of your financial life. Please contact us to update your plan if you have had any major changes in your life.
Are you generally on track? If not, you are not alone. We are here to help guide you. Below you will find some planning tips for everyone, as well as a few specific ideas for each stage of life.
Saving – The impact of compounding growth over many years is very powerful.
- Contribute to employer retirement plans (be sure to get the matching contributions), as well as IRAs, and taxable accounts as applicable.
- Saving toward a specific goal will make it easier to meet your target.
- Emergency savings – have 3 to 6 months of “must pay” expenses in cash or safe, liquid investments.
- Track your income vs. spending – at a minimum look at the monthly deposits and withdrawals for your bank accounts. If there is a surplus – set aside funds for major expenses, your future goals and add to savings. If there is a deficit, or you are adding to debt, dig deeper into the cause. Identify what can be adjusted to change this to a positive cash flow.
- Debt – pay credit cards in full every month. Have a plan to pay down high-interest debt.
- Have health, renters or homeowners, auto and umbrella insurance.
- Consider your needs for life, disability and long-term care insurance.
- Advanced Health Care Directive – allows someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to. Your hospital will often have a form you can use.
- Durable Power of Attorney – allows someone to manage your financial needs if you are unable to, due to illness or accident.
- A Will and Trust – to be sure your family and assets are taken care of as you desire.
An estate attorney can guide you on what is needed for your circumstances. Not sure where to start – call us and we will guide you.
Invest in yourself
Continue your education, network for business and social, expand your horizons, set goals.
Getting Started – 20’s
- Retirement – contribute at least enough to your work retirement plan (e.g. 401k or Roth 401k) to get the employer matching. Increase savings as your income grows. Contribute to a Roth IRA if you are under the income limit.
- Savings for other goals – start saving for future major purchases such as a home, a big trip, an advanced degree, starting a family.
- Debt – have a plan for paying down student loans. Pay credit cards in full every month.
- If you don’t already, get in the habit of checking where your money is going every few months. How much is for living expenses, for fun and for savings? Are you meeting your goals? Your bank may have reports that categorize your spending.
- Have health insurance. If it is not provided by your employer, you can use your state’s version of the Affordable Care Act. If cost is an issue, at least purchase the minimum coverage policy. Financial assistance may be available
- Have renters or homeowners, auto and umbrella insurance. Maybe life insurance.
Advanced Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney are needed. A Will if you have assets or a family and perhaps a Trust.
Career and Family 30’s and 40’s
- If you are not already fully funding your retirement accounts, bring them up to the maximum annual contributions as your income increases.
- A rule of thumb is 15% of your gross income should go to savings.
- Check your savings against your goals to be sure you are on track.
- If you are considering a home purchase, look at all the costs of ownership. In addition to the down payment and mortgage, there are property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
- This is the time to get more serious about watching where your money is going. It is easy to lose track with a busy life. There are many tools available to make it easier.
- Help your children learn about the value of money by example when managing the family budget. Teach them how to save and spend their own money.
- Start looking at the costs for education and possible sources of funding. If you are on track with your retirement savings, consider adding a college savings account such as a 529 Plan.
- If your children have earned income, they can start a Custodial Roth IRA of their own.
A lot may be changing for you and your family. Your life, disability and umbrella insurance needs are likely to have increased. Your insurance professional can review the benefits and coverages for all your insurance policies. If you need a referral, call us and we can help guide you.
Review your estate documents and beneficiaries every time you have a major life change. Be sure any new family members are included and that all assets are properly titled. If you don’t have a Trust, this could be a good time to consider one. An estate attorney can create, review and update as needed. Questions? Contact your financial planner at Bedell Frazier for guidance.
Career and Family 40’s and 50’s and Looking to the Future
This is the perfect time for personal financial planning to help you navigate the next phase. Bedell Frazier is your team for this. We can review your individual situation to make sure you are on track for the future.
Saving & Spending
- Continue to maximize your savings. Take advantage of the Catch-Up provision at age 50, allowing you to save more to your retirement accounts at work and your IRAs.
- If early retirement is a consideration, dig deeper into what that might look like so you can make any needed adjustments to spending and saving.
Revisit goals and funding sources for college and career. Are they realistic? Are your children participating in the planning, saving and activities that will help them meet their goals?
Insurance & Legal Documents
Continue to review these periodically to be sure they reflect changes in your life and the tax law.
Check on your group life and long-term care insurance policies at work. Do you need to add coverage? Can you keep them when you retire? Will the cost or benefits change at retirement?
Verify the beneficiaries on all investment accounts, retirement accounts, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc. to be sure they reflect the proper individuals and will work in concert with your other estate documents.
Career, Family and Preparing for a New Lifestyle – mid 50’s and Beyond
Saving & Spending
- Review the allocation between retirement account savings vs. taxable savings. It is important to have a balance among these for liquidity and to better manage taxes in retirement. You may want to shift your savings strategy as you get closer to retirement.
- Look at your budget in greater detail – plan for large expenses that are coming up, and expenses that will change in retirement. Pay down debts that you don’t want to carry into retirement.
- Consider annual partial conversions of your IRA to a Roth IRA, especially in the lower income years from retirement to age 72 (when you must start withdrawing from your IRA).
Are they independent? If not, review their current and future financial needs. How do they meld with your retirement plans?
Has the family talked with them about their wishes for their later retirement years? What do they want to do when they need assistance with everyday living? Will they need financial help?
The need for life insurance will likely change during this time. If you have a term life policy, when does it end? If you have permanent life insurance, a current illustration of benefits should be requested and reviewed.
- Continue to update your estate documents as your life and the tax laws change.
- Are the people you named as executor of your estate, power of attorney and successor trustees still the right people for the job? Maybe your children are now of age and appropriate to consider.
Planning Ahead for the Next Stage
- If you are planning to reduce your work or change careers, will there be a demand for your skills? Is there additional training you might need?
- Do you have a backup plan if you are forced to retire before you want to?
- Give serious thought and have conversations about what life will look like when you are no longer working full-time and raising your family. Where will you live, what you will do, what is important to you and your family? Consider transition activities that will give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction in retirement.
- Contact your Bedell Frazier financial planning team to update your plan.
This Is the Time to Look At:
- Social security claiming strategies, tax strategies, health insurance options.
- How your investments and other income sources will fund your expenses in retirement.
- What your later years of retirement might look like, how you will pay for long-term care.
- Estate and legacy planning.
- Other goals or concerns that are important to you.