By Ben Feld
In America, we treat our first responders with great respect, as well we should. They put their lives on the line for us every day.
And with a tip of the cap to them, you are reminded there is something you can do for yourself each and every day: Put your fiscal health on the line. Keep it front and center and be your own fiscal first responder.
No doubt you have financial goals. They will differ from your friends and neighbors, and sometimes they will test your mettle. But you can achieve them because, through the course of your life, let’s face it … your buck stops with you.
Sound retirement. College savings. Bigger home. Starting a business. Health care needs. And more. It all can be accomplished if you choose to be your own fiscal first responder.
What steps must you take? The choices will vary and statistics will differ as to how much you will need for what, but this list will serve as an initial fiscal first guide:
Pay yourself first.
Any time you have the opportunity to contribute to an employer’s retirement plan, jump on it as fast as you can and for as much as you can. Especially when your account will grow tax-deferred and your employer may make matching contributions.
Insure to ensure your family and/or business fiscal health.
Sometimes, the unfortunate does occur and you must be prepared. Protect your life (life insurance) and your ability to earn an income (disability insurance), as well as your home and other key assets.
Plan for Uncle Sam.
Do you keep careful records to meet your uncle’s April 15 tax deadline every year? And are you doing at least some initial planning with an eye toward your fiscal future? It is a good truth to contemplate — the day may come when you need estate planning.
Save for college costs.
They are rising faster than the overall inflation rate. Prepare now. No children? Then pay yourself first even more.
Establish an emergency fiscal fund.
Keep three to six months of expenses in a liquid asset such as a money market or savings account. Stuff happens, as they say. Be ready if and when it happens to you. And let’s hope it doesn’t.
Some may have a longer list of steps. Some shorter. But if you are going to be your own fiscal first responder, you can plan for what you can control and be prepared for what you can’t.
Develop your list. Be aware of it every day but check it at least once every three months. Work with the financial professional(s) with whom you feel comfortable keeping in mind your own particular circumstances.
Ben Feld is an adviser with 1847Financial in Conshohocken.