Achieving financial security has never been simple and can be especially difficult during an economic downturn. These guidelines can help keep your future financial security from taking a nosedive in good economic times - and bad.
1. Scrutinize expenses
- How do you spend your money? Paying close attention to cash flow, including those “small treats” you give yourself throughout the week, can have a big impact.
- Those $3 cups of coffee each morning can add up quickly – costing you $780 a year!
- Use our spending worksheet to record all the ways you spend. Then take out a pen and start cutting.
2. Make a budget
- Write down all of your sources of income and all the ways you spend it.
- Know exactly how much extra money you actually have to spend each month after paying for necessities.
- Use our budget worksheet to help you create a can-do budget.
3. Pay down debt
- The benefits of wiping debt off your personal balance sheet can be huge.
- A good strategy to get a handle on your credit cards is to focus on the highest-rate card first. In general, it’s best to put extra amounts toward the card with the highest rate until it’s paid off, and then move on to the card that has the next highest rate.
- You should also avoid new charges and continue to pay at least the minimum amounts on your other cards.
- Use our debt payoff worksheet to help you eliminate burdensome debt.
4. Establish an emergency fund
- An unexpected expense can wreak havoc on your finances if you’re not prepared.
- Keep at least three to six months’ salary in an account that allows you to access the money quickly and without penalty.
5. Protect your assets
- In good economic times and bad, adequate protection always makes sense.
- Life insurance can provide income for you family if you die.
- Homeowners and auto insurance can help protect you if your home or car is damaged or destroyed – and provide liability coverage if someone is injured.
- Disability insurance can provide a source of income if you’re unable to work.
6. Leave your retirement accounts alone
- If you participate in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, you might be tempted to put your contributions on hold – just through a rough time. Be aware that pausing your contributions can be very expensive in the long run, and it could mean having to work longer than you planned.
7. Follow an investment strategy
- Investing is important for your future financial security. Don’t let a declining market tempt you to sell impulsively. You could miss out on substantial gains if you’re not invested in the market when it starts to rebound.
- Instead, make sure your investment strategy is still appropriate for you. Base it on your tolerance for market risk and the amount of time before you need the money.
- Appropriate asset allocation is considered the single most important aspect of investing. If it’s still right for you, stick with it!
- Take our Risk Tolerance Quiz to get a suggested asset allocation.
8. Don’t go it alone!
- Navigating your way to financial security can be confusing, but help is closer than you think. COUNTRY Financial® can provide you with guidance regarding your unique situation.
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