Three Questions Smart People Ask to Keep Their Retirement on Track

Three Questions Smart People Ask to Keep Their Retirement on Track

Blog Post Originally From DaveRamsey.com If you’re looking for a pro to help you manage your investments, there’s no shortage of advice for what questions to ask when interviewing a potential financial advisor. But what about after the hire? How do you ensure your future’s going according to plan? These three questions are a great place to start. How Do My Funds Compare to Other Similar Funds? Hopefully, you invested in good growth stock mutual funds with a long history of above-average returns. Even so, it’s a good idea to sit down with your financial advisor periodically for a performance check. Your funds should perform much like the S&P 500—it swings up and down but consistently trends upward in the big picture. If one of your funds has a bad quarter, don’t panic. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. It takes time for a fund to ride out the stock market’s fluctuations and live up to its potential. Before you make any sudden moves, take a closer look by comparing the fund to others in the same category. Let’s say one of your aggressive growth stock mutual funds has taken a dip. Check other aggressive growth stock funds to see how they’re faring. If they’re down 17% and your fund is only down 15%, you’re doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things. Stay the course and give it two or three years to bounce back. If a fund continually lags way behind its category peers, talk to your advisor about your options. Just keep in mind that moving funds should be a rare event and...
Till Debt Do Us Part: Merging Your Money When You Marry

Till Debt Do Us Part: Merging Your Money When You Marry

Blog Post Originally From DaveRamsey.com Getting married is exciting, but it brings many challenges. One such challenge that you and your spouse will have to face is how to merge your finances. Planning carefully and communicating clearly are important, because the financial decisions that you make now can have a lasting impact on your future. Discuss your financial goals The first step in mapping out your financial future together is to discuss your financial goals. Start by making a list of your short-term goals (e.g., paying off wedding debt, new car, vacation) and long-term goals (e.g., having children, your children’s college education, retirement). Then, determine which goals are most important to you. Once you’ve identified the goals that are a priority, you can focus your energy on achieving them. Prepare a budget Next, you should prepare a budget that lists all of your income and expenses over a certain time period (e.g., monthly, annually). You can designate one spouse to be in charge of managing the budget, or you can take turns keeping records and paying the bills. If both you and your spouse are going to be involved, make sure that you develop a record-keeping system that both of you understand. And remember to keep your records in a joint filing system so that both of you can easily locate important documents. Begin by listing your sources of income (e.g., salaries and wages, interest, dividends). Then, list your expenses (it may be helpful to review several months of entries in your checkbook and credit card bills). Add them up and compare the two totals. Hopefully, you get a...
Getting Started: Establishing a Financial Safety Net

Getting Started: Establishing a Financial Safety Net

Blog Post Originally from DaveRamsey.com In times of crisis, you don’t want to be shaking pennies out of a piggy bank. Having a financial safety net in place can ensure that you’re protected when a financial emergency arises. One way to accomplish this is by setting up a cash reserve, a pool of readily available funds that can help you meet emergency or highly urgent short-term needs. How much is enough? Most financial professionals suggest that you have three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your cash reserve. The actual amount, however, should be based on your particular circumstances. Do you have a mortgage? Do you have short-term and long-term disability protection? Are you paying for your child’s orthodontics? Are you making car payments? Other factors you need to consider include your job security, health, and income. The bottom line: Without an emergency fund, a period of crisis (e.g., unemployment, disability) could be financially devastating. Building your cash reserve If you haven’t established a cash reserve, or if the one you have is inadequate, you can take several steps to eliminate the shortfall: Save aggressively: If available, use payroll deduction at work; budget your savings as part of regular household expenses Reduce your discretionary spending (e.g., eating out, movies, lottery tickets) Use current or liquid assets (those that are cash or are convertible to cash within a year, such as a short-term certificate of deposit) Use earnings from other investments (e.g.,stocks, bonds, or mutual funds) Check out other resources (e.g., do you have a cash value insurance policy that you can borrow from?) A final note: Your...
Baby Makes Three…

Baby Makes Three…

Blog Post Originally From DaveRamsey.com So you’re going to have or adopt a baby. Congratulations! Parenthood may be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. As you prepare for life with your baby, here are a few things you should think about. Reassess your budget You’ll have to buy a lot of things before (or soon after) your baby arrives. Buying a new crib, stroller, car seat, and other items you’ll need could cost you well over $1,000. But if you do your homework, you can save money without sacrificing quality and safety. Discount stores or Internet retailers may offer some items at lower prices than you’ll find elsewhere. If you don’t mind used items, poke around for bargains at yard sales and flea markets. Finally, you’ll probably get hand-me-downs and shower gifts from family and friends, so some items will be free. Buying all of the gear you need is pretty much a one-shot deal, but you’ll also have many ongoing expenses that will affect your monthly budget. These may include baby formula and food, diapers, clothing, child care (day care and/or baby-sitters), medical costs not covered by insurance (such as co-payments for doctor’s visits), and increased housing costs (if you move to accommodate your larger family, for example). Redo your budget to figure out how much your total monthly expenses will increase after the birth of your baby. If you’ve never created a budget before, now’s the time to start. Chances are, you’ll be spending at least an extra few hundred dollars a month. If it looks like the added expenses will strain your budget,...