If you’re like me, there never seems to be enough time in the day/week/month to get it all done. We lead busier lives than ever before — we work more, take on more responsibility, and our kids are involved in more activities.
We also happen to make more money, but for many people it doesn’t feel that way. A particular challenge for a lot of us is making the most of our financial resources, and it’s easy to see why. Our time is scarce, our choices are many, the cost of living is high, and we want to be able to do it all.
So, what does making the most of your situation really look like? Here are a few things I’ve found to be particularly effective.
Understand your Why
Why is money important to you? Why do you work so hard? Is it financial security, the ability to travel, spending time with your family? Until you answer this question you’ll never be able to truly thrive. With the element of purpose behind big decisions you can more easily move toward what is most important to you. In time, before making any decision you’ll instinctively ask yourself if this supports us reaching our goals.
Save at least 20% of your income.
This is a big one, until you can start saving a considerable amount of your household income you are going to struggle meeting any of your financial goals, let alone building real wealth. I understand everyone’s situation is a little different, if you are having trouble getting there, you’ll need to make tough choices and set priorities in your spending.
Don’t spend more than 25% of NET income on housing expenses.
We live in a major city where not only is the cost of housing astronomical, but people are fighting for overpriced properties. You should only buy when you are ready and avoid the emotion that is attached to the process. Sure, banks will generally lend up to 28% of gross income (or more), but that may not support building wealth. Think about it, If you spend 28% on housing and income taxes average 20-25% of gross income that doesn’t leave much in the budget. If you need to reinforce your decision making process, review the amount of interest on each mortgage payment to the bank and look at projected taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. And remember; don’t let emotion get in the way.
Contribute to a retirement account AND taxable investment account.
Contributing to your 401(k) is great and it provides a tax deduction for many, however, funding a taxable investment account provides liquidity, flexibility, and balance. Also, capital gains and dividends may receive favorable tax rates that are lower than ordinary income rates, and you can access this account for longer-term goals before the age of 59.5 without penalty.
Don’t have more than one car payment at a time.
Get into the habit of owning vehicles for a longer period of time. Staggering replacements between spouses can help limit expenses, pay one car off before replacing the other and cut your monthly cost. Keep in mind that a new car loses 50% of its value within the first 4 years1.
Invest in low-cost, well-diversified mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
Not all investments are created equal. Look for ways to invest your money in funds that are low-cost and well-diversified. Work with an advisor to structure your portfolio for pursuing higher returns with a lower level of risk.
Don’t take on consumer debt.
This one goes without saying, don’t accumulate credit card debt and never carry a balance over to the next month. However, you should find a card with benefits that work for you. Use it for monthly expenses, and pay it off every month. Done properly this can pay you cash back, provide travel perks, or other benefits that really add up. It might just pay for that extra vacation this year.
Invest in others.
It’s no secret that we all want to feel useful and we want to make a difference. In fact, studies have shown that people who engage in volunteer work feel as they have more free time in their lives. Helping others makes us feel more effective and thus may help us to feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
We understand that life is complicated and busy, but you work too hard not to use your resources in the best way possible. Every day we help successful, busy families and professionals manage their lives and financial affairs, thus creating time for them and helping them to thrive. If you feel that you aren’t reaching your maximum potential or optimizing your family’s financial resources please reach out to set a time for a no-obligation meeting. We’d love to help you thrive!
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***The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Rebalancing a portfolio may cause investors to incur tax liabilities and/or transaction costs.
There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio.
Rebalancing and diversification does not protect against market risk.
An investment in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), structured as a mutual fund or unit investment trust, involves the risk of losing money and should be considered as part of an overall program, not a complete investment program. An investment in ETFs involves additional risks such as not diversified, price volatility, competitive industry pressure, international political and economic developments, possible trading halts, and index tracking errors.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risk, charges and expenses of the mutual fund. The prospectuses and, if available, the summary prospectuses contain this and other important information about the mutual fund. You can obtain prospectuses and summary prospectuses from your financial representative. Read carefully before investing.