January is Financial Wellness Month which means now is a great time to connect with your financial professional to discuss your financial situation and aspirations for the future. You should also assess if your financial strategy needs any adjustments or changes based on your lifestyle.
Defining Financial Wellness
The first thing to do is define what “financial wellness” means for you. This varies drastically from person to person. It is informed by who you are, where you come from, and what your experiences with money are. A person who is just starting out on their financial journey will have different expectations and needs than a person who is nearing retirement.
How, then, is “financial wellness” defined? First, ask yourself what you need to feel secure, financially speaking. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are there any life events that have occurred recently or are likely to occur this year?
- Do you need to review your cash flow plan including any bonuses received at the end of the last year, or will you receive them at the beginning of this year?
- Are you making meaningful progress towards your financial goals?
- Do you have an adequate emergency fund given your personal situation?
- Do you have a good balance between retirement accounts and other account types?
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will you be able to retire at your target age?
Financial Wellness Goals
Thinking about financial wellness is often a matter of setting goals for what you can accomplish now and what you can work on to make it a part of your larger financial strategy. For now, consider taking these actions:
- Have a values-based conversation with the decision makers in your household, meaning any tax-paying adult who contributes income and shares responsibility for the bills. This could be your spouse or a family member. Make sure that the non-essential things you are spending money on are in line with your commitments to meeting your financial needs. This is not a “stop getting lattes” conversation; it is a “are we spending money on the things that matter?” conversation.
- Consider automating your savings. Setting up automatic deposits into your investment and savings accounts is a great way to make sure you stay on track towards meeting your financial goals.
- Create an emergency fund reflecting 3-12 months of household expenses to establish a stable foundation going forward. If that seems too ambitious, build the fund a month at a time until you reach your goal.
- Make regular contributions to your retirement accounts. Take advantage of any matching contributions you might get from your employer.
- Make long-term financial goals. If you are thinking in terms of buying a house, for instance, let that guide your overall financial strategy.
- Is becoming totally debt free an achievable goal? It can be if you make it a priority. That said, being totally debt free can be a difficult task for most households. For that reason, it may be better for you to focus on your other goals first and make debt freedom a target for later: for example, being debt free by retirement.
These are, of course, not hard and fast rules. As mentioned above, every individual has their own specific definition of financial wellness. Some of these examples might feel like a long reach. Others, you might already be practicing. The good news is that with careful practice and judicious scrutiny, many people can gain a feeling of satisfaction and even pleasure from maintaining financial wellness.
Having your financial strategy in place can mean not only a great deal to you in the long term but may also provide you with some comfort in the short term. Schedule a time to discuss this with your trusted Telarray advisor today to get on your simple path to a secure financial future.