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Be Wise With Money

A financial Checklist for Every Life Stage

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Where are you on life's journey? Just starting your career or family? Established in your job and closing in on retirement, or are you retired and taking it all in?

If you're in your 20s or 30s, you have time to build your savings and accomplish the things you want to do. If you're pre-retired or retired, you probably whittled down your bucket list. Now you’re focusing on what’s really important – protecting the assets you've built up over the years. 

Six reasons to tic these to-do's off your financial checklist

Priorities can change over time; sometimes before you realize it. That’s why it's important to be proactive when it comes to reaching your goals. Doing so can help you avoid common concerns and financial risks like these:

  1. Americans' main concern about retirement is running out of money.1
  2. Debt – especially debt from higher education – plays a huge role in multiple generations’ lives.1
  3. Twenty-three percent of Millennials spend more than their income.1
  4. Adults ages 40 to 59 say financial security is the top barrier to happiness.2
  5. Americans' top financial fears have to do with health and aging.1
  6. Important expenses take a bigger chunk of American's earnings today:
  • College tuition and fees are 248.4% more expensive than in 1990.
  • Hospital services, nursing homes, and adult day care are 222.6% more expensive.1


Take control of your financial life

Whatever phase of life you’re in, knowing what steps to take – and when to take them – can help you improve your personal and financial health. While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, it can help you focus on some of the key to-do’s based on your life stage and goals.  

Financial and Personal To-Do's

Early in Career

Prior to Retirement

Retired

Pay off debt, e.g., credit cards, vehicle loans, mortgage so you can be debt-free in retirement.

x

x

 

Know your student loan obligations, e.g., type of loans you hold, total amount owed, repayment period and set up a plan to pay them off.

x

 

 

Assess/reassess your money mindset. How do you perceive your relationship with money and your attitude about generosity?

x

x

x

Identify your goals and values. Include short- and long-term personal, professional, financial and health-related goals. Re-evaluate periodically.

x

x

x

Get more tech savvy. Web-based tools and multiple apps can help you manage and track your personal finances.

 

x

x

Make/follow a budget. Include necessary recurring expenses (e.g., food, utilities, rent), retirement and regular savings, and some money for travel or other fun. Many budget templates are available online.

x

x

x

Build an emergency fund. Set a specific dollar amount to save for unexpected expenses like dental work or vehicle repairs. A common goal is enough to cover expenses for three to six months.

x

x

 

Retain health insurance. Review your plan options each year to compare benefits and costs to your expected healthcare needs.

x

x

 

Review your credit report. You can receive one free credit report a year from Equifax.com, Experian.com and Transunion.com.

x

x

x

Make a will. Be sure to designate legal guardians for minor children.

x

 

 

Build social capital. Learn about your community and build relationships with neighbors so you’ll have a network of resources when needed. 

x

x

x

Share your time and talents. Find a cause you’re passionate about and help make a difference. Volunteering can also help you learn new skills, feel fulfilled and meet new friends. It may even benefit your health. 

x

x

x

Save for kids' college. Learn about different college savings options. Create a plan that allows you to save for college as well as retirement and other goals. Thrivent's uPLAN College Planning program is one resource.

x

x

 

Consider disability income insurance. Talk with a financial professional to see if it's a wise choice to protect your ability to earn a paycheck. (Calculate how much coverage you may need.)

x

x

 

Schedule an insurance checkup: Protecting your family's lifestyle is important when you're younger. In retirement, your focus may change to protecting your assets. Find out if your protection needs have changed. 

x

x

x

Contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans. Review annually to see if it makes sense to change your contribution level.

x

x

 

Create a retirement strategy. Meet with your financial professional to discuss options to help you save and grow your investments.

x

x

 

Consider long-term care insurance. You can estimate the cost of long-term care and how much you may need to save for expenses.  

 

x

 

Set up a calendar of important dates, e.g., quarterly estimated taxes; open enrollment for Medicare; required minimum distributions.

 

x

x

Explore Social Security options. There are hundreds of options to consider. Learn when it’s best for you to start collecting benefits.

 

x

 

Develop a retirement distribution strategy. Ask your financial professional about how you can make your assets last as long as you live.

 

 

x

Create an estate strategy. How will you pass on your valuables – and your values?  Your Will and Estate Planning Guide can help you get started.

 

x

x

 

Think of it this way

You schedule medical appointments to help protect your health. You take your vehicle in for routine maintenance. Doesn't it make sense to review your personal and financial situation to see where you can make improvements? Being proactive can help you protect what’s most important to you and have the financial freedom to live life – your way. 

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