Are you focused on your future? To build long-term financial success, it’s important to develop a financial plan now, and then stick with it, making tweaks along the way as your circumstances change. Plans vary from individual to individual, depending on their age, career stage, and goals. So what will your plan be?
“We meet with our Members and their spouses to create roadmaps to help them achieve their short- and long-term goals,” said Joshua Schnelle, MBA, an army veteran and Relationship Manager with AAFMAA Wealth Management and Trust (AWM&T).
“A financial plan covers almost every angle of your financial life, from how much you should be saving, to ensuring the appropriate amount of insurance coverage, to developing your unique investment strategy. It organizes your short- and long-term goals and creates a detailed, written roadmap to get you from where you are today, to where you want to be in the future.”
Here’s how to approach it:
Set a Budget
A budget puts you in control of your money by tracking expenses and spending habits. It will also help with setting short and long-term financial goals.
“It’s the critical foundational step in developing a long-term plan,” said Schnelle.
For some AWM&T Members, step two is to get out of debt. “In this stage it’s important to understand the difference between your good and bad debts, then to create a plan to eliminate your bad debt quickly,” said Schnelle.
Once these bad debts are paid off, you can set up automated systems to start saving and establish a stable budget.
Build an Emergency Fund
As part of your financial plan, you should build an appropriate emergency fund that can cover three to six months’ worth of your non-discretionary expenses. This range depends on your specific circumstances. “Having an emergency fund in place not only gives you peace of mind, it helps to prevent falling back into bad debt when an unforeseen event takes place,” Schnelle said.
Save for the Future
Many financial advisors recommend putting 15 percent of your gross income into retirement each year; however, if you have specific retirement goals you may need to increase this amount.
Talking to an AWM&T Relationship Manager can help you determine the amount you need to retire comfortably while matching your investments to your horizon (goals and timeline) and your tolerance for risk (volatility). This will help set up the proper allocation and asset mix in your portfolio: a blend of stocks, bonds, cash, real estate, and other investment vehicles.
In addition to saving for retirement, you may want to plan and save for future expenses like your children’s education or a down payment for a home. Each goal could require a unique saving and investing strategy, which is why it’s important to have a professional guide you through the creation of your financial plan, Schnelle noted.
Invest and Diversify
As you draw closer to retiring, you may want to adjust your portfolio objectives to address potential impacts of market volatility. The nearer you are to retirement, the less time you have to recover from significant losses in the market. If you need help reviewing your investments, an AWM&T Relationship Manager can help.
Finally, once you are successfully following your financial plan, it is important to review and update it annually, Schnelle said, helping to keep you on your path toward your goals.
We’re Here to Help
At AWM&T, our priority is to ensure the financial security and independence of the American Armed Forces community. We help do this by providing investment management, financial planning, and trust services to military families. Call 910-390-1933 or click here to request a complimentary Investment Portfolio Review. There’s no cost or obligation, and the results are entirely for your benefit.