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Letting emotions override sound economic decisions could be a big mistake

It twists, it turns, it goes up, it comes down and it even has the uncanny ability to make many of us feel a bit wobbly and nauseous. The economic roller coaster has taken all of us for a wild ride, particularly over the past few years. So what can you do now to help gain back some control over your financial life?

Here are my tips to help you survive the ride.

1. Pay down your debt, but don’t forget to pay yourself too.

  • Generally speaking, the sooner you pay off your debt – especially consumer debt like that of credit cards – the better off you’ll be. However, also set aside money on a regular basis for an emergency.

2. Track, than manage, your cash flow. 

  • It’s impossible to manage your money if you don’t have a feel for what you take in and where your money goes.
  • A budget can be a real lifesaver in terms of ensuring that you have a solid financial foundation.

3. Insure the fundamentals (health, property, income and life).

  • Everything you own is at risk IF your fundamental needs of your life are not properly insured.
  • A financial professional can assist you in determining the appropriate level of insurance for your specific circumstances.

4. Grow your job skills.

  • Perhaps one of the most neglected of our assets is our job skills.
  • Continually seek to grow and enhance your value to your current employer or potential employers by growing your job skills through continuing education, volunteer experiences, and more.

5. Direct your bonus or raise toward financial priorities. 

  • If you are lucky enough to have received a bonus or raise, put it towards a financial priority, like paying down your debt, creating an emergency savings, continuing education, or building your retirement account.

6. Invest for the long-term. 

  • It may be tempting to discontinue participation in your company’s 401(k) account. Don’t! Letting emotions override sound economic decisions could be a big mistake. It is wise to continue to participate in a 401(k) program, especially if your company is matching your contribution.
  • Consider time, not timing. When will you need the money? The strategy of someone 25 years away from retirement versus just one or two is obviously going to be different.
  • Make sure your portfolio is rebalanced and is appropriately allocated for your risk tolerance, but also make sure you are ready to take advantage of a market rebound.

7. Build your financial knowledge.

  • Read financial publications; listen to financial shows; talk to friends and financial professionals. The more you know, the better decisions you will make concerning the financial choices you have.

8. Talk with loved ones about location of financial documents.

  • It is especially important for senior parents and adult children to discuss this matter.
  • Every family will differ regarding their comfort level around discussing specifics of end-of-life and healthcare issues, but all families should, at a minimum, inform their loved ones where specific financial documents can be found (e.g., health care directives; long-term care and life insurance policies; pension and retirement account information).

9. Meet with a financial professional and work with a strong company.

  • A financial professional can be invaluable in helping you create and track a financial program appropriate to your goals.
  • Work with someone you trust; someone who has an excellent reputation and plenty of positive references.
  • Ask the right questions to make sure the company or companies you will be working with are strong and stable.

10. Live generously.

  • It is easy to get caught up in everything going on in our world. Don’t forget to give back. Make financial donations when you can and look for opportunities to volunteer and share.

 


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