Is your focus 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 develop a plan that will work for them now, and into the future,” said Robert (Rob) S. Rea, MBA, a retired Marine and Relationship Manager with AAFMAA Wealth Management & and Trust (AWM&T).
“Your plan will help you determine how much you can afford to invest, so you can set yourself up to strategically manage your money— which should come naturally to servicemembers and Veterans since planning ahead becomes part of the military mindset,”
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 first step to controlling where each dollar goes,” Rea said.
For some AAFMAA Members, step two is to get out of debt. “This is important because it does not make sense to save or invest money when you are paying a higher interest rate on the money that you owe to others,” said Rea.
If you have a lot of debt (excluding your mortgage) you should look at cutting your spending and redirecting the money you save to paying off the debt. Once your debt is 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 emergency fund that could cover six months' worth of your regular expenses. “If you dip into your emergency fund you should focus on bringing it back up to the full amount as quickly as possible,” Rea said.
Save for the Future
Many financial advisers 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 vehicles.
In addition to saving for retirement, you should begin to plan and save for future expenses such as your children’s education or a down payment for a home. Each goal could require a different saving and investing strategy than typical retirement savings, which is why it’s important to have a professional help you set up your financial plan, Rea noted.
Invest and Diversify
As you draw closer to retiring, you may want to adjust your portfolio objectives to address potential impacts from market volatility. This way you will still have the money you need if the market crashes, whereas when you are younger, you have time to recover from market swings. If you need help reviewing your investments, an AWM&T Relationship Manager can help.
Finally, once you are successfully following your financial plan, according to Rea, you may want to consider giving back through donations or volunteering.
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 1-910-390-1933 or click here to request a complimentary Investment Portfolio review. There’s no cost or obligation.