Your Financial GPS
By Laura Chiesman
What if you woke up one day in a strange country with no passport, map or GPS? Even worse, what if you couldn’t speak the language, had no relevant job experience and didn’t have any local currency?
This ‘stranger in a strange land’ feeling is a reality, and is pretty normal, for many at certain stages of life. It can occur at an expected time, such as early in adulthood. After graduation there’s that realization that a diploma, no matter the education level, doesn’t automatically identify a person as a great job candidate, or as a good risk for a mortgage or lease. At this time of life it’s normal to develop a new financial and professional record as we figure out how to make our way in the world.
It’s less expected, and much less comfortable, to go through this process later in life. Most of us know someone who has found themselves going through an unexpected transition. They might be suddenly single, have a sick or incapacitated spouse, or for some other reason be abruptly responsible for family support and finances. These new responsibilities often involve looking for a job, figuring out household bills, opening new investment and bank accounts, refinancing mortgages and, if they’ve not done these things before, essentially learning a new language.
Transitions are difficult and a change that involves financial security will really get your attention! At the very least there are uncertainties, inefficiencies and annoyances, and at the worst, extreme insecurity, trauma and financial failure.
Being unprepared and having to learn from scratch sounds like an uncomfortable journey. How can this be avoided?
If you were preparing for a vacation or long trip you’d want good information and directions. Experience and regular maintenance along the way would help too.
Below are four steps you can take to prepare and smooth your path should you ever experience a sudden change of direction in your financial life and responsibilities.
- Develop a resume – Keep an ongoing record of jobs and experiences including dates and accomplishments. Keep this record even if you’re not employed outside the home – volunteer activities, educational or inspirational classes, seminars. Earn or keep up certifications even if you’re not currently using them.
- Build and monitor your credit – Get a credit card or car loan in your own name and monitor your individual credit report at least annually.
- Retirement savings – Start to put away and invest some savings, even a small amount, in your own name, every month and year. If you are not employed and married to a working spouse, investigate your ability to contribute to an IRA or ROTH.
- Household budget and income – Know about your own finances. Life is busy and often one member of a couple will take responsibility for bills and financial issues however it’s very important for spouses to share information and knowledge about bills, passwords, family debt and income. Division of duties is great – a complete knowledge void is not so good!
Making a habit of each of these steps will be positive and fulfilling no matter what the circumstance. Should you one day find yourself on an unexpected journey you’ll be prepared with a passport and a map and won’t have to learn a whole new language!
If you are in a period of transition or want to plan ahead please feel welcome to call our wealth services firm in Satellite Beach, FL – Melbourne/Brevard area at (321) 773-7773 to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.
You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this publication serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from FirstWave Financial. A copy of the FirstWave’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.