Planning for Your Financial Future

Planning for Your Financial Future

by Thomas L. Hardin

(Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on longevity planning.)

If you're like most people in your "earning years," your quality of life typically revolves around your earned income. Saving, building net worth, and managing a portfolio seem like a sacrifice. Foregoing current consumption to save for the future isn't a high priority; it seems to have only a negative impact.

Then at age 50, you get a little wake-up call. You find yourself thinking about retirement and wondering whether you'll have enough money. You get interested in investing. You finally make the connection between savings, net worth, accumulated assets, and your quality of life.

The sooner you make that connection, the better. To follow the old "retire at 65" model, your accumulated assets would have to support you for another 30 to 40 years. If you're following our philosophies, most of those years will be high-quality. As a member of the rock and roll generation, you won't want to downsize the way your parents did. You'll always be looking for adventure - which costs more than traditional retirement did.

Since your accumulated assets probably won't be enough to support your desired lifestyle, you'll have to figure out additional ways to make money. That's why it's important to begin visioning this next stage of life. Where will the money come from? How will you tap into your accumulated assets? Can you turn a hobby or a passion into an income-producing resource?

Building net worth now will give you the financial freedom to do what you want later. You've accumulated hard assets (your home, furniture), so now's the perfect time to save.

Here are three simple steps to help get you started.

  1. Create a savings strategy: Calculate your expenses and your income, then make sure that your excess cash flow is being invested in a systematic manner. If you don't figure those things out, the money just gets lost in the grocery bill. You don't necessarily have to cut back; just be aware of your cash flow and create a process for saving.
  2. Build net worth: Identify your current net worth, then set 5- and 10-year goals. Very few people focus on building net worth. As a result, it's rarely what it should be, based on the income they earn.
  3. Manage your investments: Take time to learn about the fundamentals of portfolio management, such as diversification strategies for reducing risk and enhancing return. When you understand the fundamentals, you won't be thrown by variations in the market, and you'll be able to follow the plan you set for yourself.

Continued in Part 2: How to Live from Accumulated Income.