By: Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte
Can you believe it – Saturday, September 21 marked the last day of summer (astronomical), and with this sure reality we make preparations – physically, mentally and otherwise.
But before you pack up your flip flops and dust off your winter boots, one action to address is the issue of how we manage our life’s finances. We are continually made aware that our means (money and resources) are limited but our wants and needs seem never-ending, potentially causing feelings of disappointment, regret and angst. To achieve a healthy balance, there must be a reoccurring commitment to evaluate current financial situations against the desirable position, understanding the reality that there will be shifts, changes and challenges along the way.
Capitalizing on the types of opportunities that yield the best financial gain remains a key factor in helping to combat the inequalities that exist. These opportunities include:
- Earmark accounts: Clearly defining your financial plans will help determine how each dollar earned should be spent, saved or invested, be-it for current consumption needs, lifestyle wants (vacations, holidays, etc.), short terms goals, college planning, and other pursuits. Prioritizing each based on individual and family needs is crucial and should not be overlooked.
- Manage the “what ifs”: Affording the unexpected can be stressful, so be sure to have cash in highly liquid accounts and instruments. A good rule of thumb is to have enough saved to cover several months of anticipated living expenses in the event that income is reduced due to illness or loss of work. Once you define that buffer and meet it, move resources to other areas to meet other financial goals, such as retirement savings.
- Save for retirement: Participate in retirement savings accounts and take advantage of the matching fund benefits offered through certain employer-sponsored retirement plans, like a 401k. You can also determine the suitability of pre and post-tax accounts like IRAs.
- Protect yourself. One of the best ways of managing financial risk is to ensure adequate insurance coverage; life, health, auto, home, etc.
- Plan for life changes. Re-evaluate the effectiveness and sensibility of your financial plans based on major life changes, an ever changing financial marketplace and other relevant factors. Consult a trusted, qualified and vetted professional when in need.
Just as we can’t control the changing of seasons, we can’t control many of the intangible elements in our lives, such as time, space, uncertainty, and with the holiday season creeping up, there are just a few pay checks left until fall and winter celebrations. NOW is a prime time to get your household business in order by revisiting what your finances look like, measuring your progress, and identifying and committing to a budget. If you have tasted success in any small way, relish in that accomplishment, hold on to the momentum and continue to build your financial structure brick by brick.
About the Author:
Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC® is an experienced Financial Counselor who has worked extensively with U.S. Armed Forces members and families. She is a recent volunteer blogger for Navynavstress.com but contributed previously while serving at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Millington, TN. Prior to government service she worked as a Financial Services Representative for several brokerage and insurance firms. As a military spouse, Ms. Livingstone-Hoyte knows firsthand of the financial challenges and opportunities that face Military families across the globe. To that end, she embraces a steadfast belief that financial success can be simple, just not easy.