FINANCIAL LIFE STAGES
No matter what stage in life you are at, it is never too early or too late to start planning for your goals and objectives and protecting what you have or what you may have in the future.
Entering the workforce is usually the first step toward financial independence. It is also the best time to develop sound financial habits by preparing a budget, establishing a saving pattern, setting financial goals, and following a wise borrowing strategy.
Young adults face the task of learning how to manage spending and saving within the constraints of their income levels.
Here are some approaches to consider:
- Learn how you are spending your money to identify ways to save; prepare a household budget.
- Use a wise borrowing strategy. Borrow for things that provide long-term value, not depreciating assets. Control the use of credit cards.
- Establish a saving pattern. Consider an automatic savings program so that some amount is deposited into a savings account with each pay.
- Set some savings goals. Whether it is accumulating a deposit for a home, paying for a car or saving for a holiday, connecting a tangible goal with your savings can provide the motivation and discipline you need to save.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance (personal, house, car, health).
- Take advantage of any Government schemes.
- Take advantage of employee benefits offered by your employer (Salary Sacrifice).
The ages of 25 to 35 are considered to be the typical asset-building phase, characterised by:
- the early to middle years of working careers
- small net worth
- large debt, courtesy of home loans, student debt, car loans, etc
- long investment horizons
- a focus on accumulating assets to satisfy immediate needs (deposit for a house, children’s education, etc).
As most people spend the majority of this time working, now is the time to realise your lifestyle goals (such as buying your first home, saving for your children’s education, and saving for retirement). Meeting these goals will involve balancing between living for today and meet tomorrow’s needs. Although this is one of the greatest challenges of the asset-building phase, we need to remind ourselves that income for our retirement and later life funding comes from early investing activities or cash savings.
Risk protection at this stage is also vital. This can be achieved by purchasing an adequate mix of personal insurance that will cover Life, Total Disablement, Trauma & Income Protection insurance.
Financial planning, wealth protection, savings, investing, asset allocation and diversification strategies should be developed early — with the help of a professional — to make sure you are on target to meet your future goals as you move towards your next major phase of life.
The Wealth Generation stage generally occurs when your income is rising. However, nicer homes, nicer cars, and children can easily consume your increasing income.
This is the time when the financial decisions you make will have the greatest impact on the financial lifestyle you will enjoy during retirement. By now, you should have accrued savings, as well as the expertise to make sound choices such as:
- Taking full advantage of employer-offered salary sacrifices.
- Adopting tax minimisation strategies.
- Investing wisely. Consider an asset allocation strategy that matches your time horizon and risk tolerance. Don’t ignore the potential long-term returns of equities, but do your homework or rely on a qualified advisor.
- If you are contemplating borrowing to invest, do it wisely. Consider debt recycling and potential gearing.
- Ensure your insurance protection has kept pace with your needs. Having adequate life insurance to protect your family, in case of your untimely death, is critical.
- Preparing an estate plan to minimise tax and to ensure that your custodial, financial, and medical wishes are carried out.
The opportunities to help increase your nest egg, come with a host of complexities. This makes good financial planning essential.
Retirement planning is an incredibly important step in everyone’s life, regardless of age or profession. After all, everyone wants to live comfortably and enjoy themselves in retirement. So, it is essential to begin preparing and planning for retirement as early on as possible.
Statistics show you will probably spend at least 20 years in retirement — hopefully many more. So it’s important to develop an appropriate plan to ensure that the dividends of your hard work last throughout your retirement years.
With most of your income earnings years behind you, it is critical that you protect and preserve everything that you invested your entire life to earn and accumulate. You need to protect what you can’t afford to lose and develop predictable and tax-efficient income strategies that will continue on long after you are no longer able to work.
The amount of money that is required for your retirement is highly personal and will depend of factors such as individual current lifestyles, general state of health, retirement assets, risk profile, and the tax efficiency of investments.
Estate planning, although important at all stages of life, is especially vital during the transition to the retirement phase and actual retirement phases. In simple terms, estate planning means having your affairs in order, enabling your family and loved ones to make decisions on your behalf upon your death or in the event of mental incapacity.
Retirement is something you should be looking forward to — not worrying about!
These years can and should be some of the most enjoyable and fulfilling times of your life. The freedom to live the retirement lifestyle of choice, and a sense of satisfaction with what you have accomplished, can make your golden years truly enjoyable. However, there are still financial issues that should be considered such as:
Ensuring your medical insurance is adequate. Health care expenses are becoming a greater proportion of expenditure due to the cost of medical requirements and longer life expectancy.
Making sure your estate plan is up to date. Changes in your financial situation, moving inter-state and changes in your family, should all be triggers for reviewing your estate plan with a qualified estate planning specialist.
Continuing to manage your investments carefully to ensure they are performing appropriately.
Thorough retirement planning, and successful execution of that planning, help facilitate an enjoyable retirement.
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