By Rev. Don Aldin, CRPC®
I remember when my dad was planning a family vacation to Florida. We lived in southeastern Pennsylvania, which meant the most direct route was to take I-95 and head south. But he was interested in visiting places along the way, so he headed out to the nearest AAA (American Automobile Association) office and came home with a spiral-bound notebook filled with maps and our proposed route (which veered at places from I-95) highlighted in yellow. These notebooks were called TripTiks.
TripTiks helped us navigate through large cities, visit nearby attractions, and figure out where to spend the evening. And when we would ask from the back seat “how much longer” to our next destination, my mom or dad would pass the TripTiks back to us. Then they would show where we were, explain how the map legend worked, and tell us to “figure it out.” This kept us quiet and busy and ended up being a fun distraction on a drive that was usually pretty boring.
In the age of cell phones and map apps, I miss the feeling of holding a physical map in my hands. But regardless of the technology we use, roadmaps are still essential for getting from where we are to where we want to be. The same is true with financial and retirement planning – a roadmap is essential.
As we enter this new year, considering building a financial plan if you don’t have one. If you already have one, then spend some time evaluating where you are “along the way” and any adjustments you may need to make in the coming year. A good plan considers short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term goals.
Short-Term Goals. Create a budget for 2021 or adjust your 2020 budget for the new year. You can’t know how to get to your destination if you don’t know where you are right now. Create or replenish your emergency fund with savings for four to six months of expenses to cover your basic needs and obligations. Next, pay off credit card debt. Pay off your debt starting with the smallest debt moving towards the larger ones or starting with the highest interest debt and moving towards the lower ones. Find a system that works for you. But remember, you don’t have to complete everything in your shortterm goals before you move onto tackling your intermediate-term goals.
Intermediate-Term Goals. Make sure you and your family are adequately insured. This includes health insurance, disability insurance, and life insurance. Having adequate insurance coverage keeps you “out of the ditch” while you’re traveling to your financial destination. Term life insurance is the least complicated and least expensive type of life insurance and will typically meet most of your needs. Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you become seriously ill or injured to the point where you cannot work. If you have student loans, look for opportunities to refinance the loan with a lower rate. However, be careful if you choose to refinance with a private lender because you may lose some of the benefits associated with federal student loans such as income-based repayment.
Long-Term Goals. Start making plans for retirement. Estimate your desired living expenses in retirement. Begin by determining the income you will receive from Social Security and pension plans (if you have one). Then calculate the difference between these two and that will give you an estimate of what you will need to save for in order to achieve your retirement goals. Translate that number into what you will need to save for retirement today. Keep in mind, plans change. The goal isn’t a perfect retirement plan, but a plan that allows you to evaluate where you are as you travel the financial road to retirement.
Like my dad visited AAA to get his TripTiks for our trip to Florida, reach out to us at PCA Retirement & Benefits so we can help you develop a financial and retirement roadmap that will get from where you are right now to where you would like to be.
Our team is here to serve you. If you’d like to schedule a meeting with one of our Financial Planners to build a retirement plan, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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