Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simple Financial Strategies

"Simple Financial Strategies

Wealth Creation has been the goal of many people throughout history and since the 2008 global financial meltdown, this goal is even more important today.

 “Buying a home, saving for retirement or for children’s education or even effectively managing the family budget requires more financial sophistication than ever before. Financially literate consumers make the financial marketplace work better, and they are better informed citizens as well,” Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman, Federal Reserve System.

I have found that the wealthiest people have adhered to timeless, disciplined and sustainable principles of wealth creation. It is my pleasure to share some of these gems with you:
Set a Goal
Lewis Carroll once said “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” This applies today as much as it did in the 19th century when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. The first step towards successful wealth creation is to have a definitive financial plan. One needs to ask himself – where am I today financially? Where would I like to be in five years, ten years? Will I have enough funds at retirement to maintain my standard of living; will my retirement be my golden years or my yearning years? What do I need to do to get there? Successful individuals choose and follow a well thought out course of action towards realizing their long-term financial goals. As with most things in life, without financial goals and strategies for meeting them, we drift along and leave our future to chance. The end result is the same: failure to reach financial independence.

Seek the advice of a professional
When someone becomes sick, he immediately heads to the doctor’s office. The doctor diagnoses his aliment and prescribes the appropriate course of treatment. Why shouldn’t the same apply to one’s financial health? Now more than ever, is it important to have a financial advisor who is duly qualified and experienced in order to help diagnose problems in your budget, taxation, risk mitigation, savings rate, investment strategy and portfolio structure. This small investment in one’s financial health today will pay big dividends tomorrow. A good financial advisor can help you identify your financial goals and prescribe relevant strategies to achieving them.

Get proper life insurance coverage
It is estimated that one in five households don’t have life insurance. Life insurance is a cost effective way of protecting your business, your spouse and your children. This allows you to have peace of mind that your family will be financially secure in your absence. Even though the exact amount will be dependant on your specific situation, a simple method for estimating your minimum need would be to purchase enough to cover ten times your earnings. For example if your annual income is $35,000, your life insurance policy should be at least $350,000.

Get proper general insurance coverage
There are other risks – for example fire, theft, flood – that people face with respect to their physical assets. The best way to mitigate these risks is to have proper general insurance coverage. This allows a person to quickly regain the use of these assets while not risk reducing their net worth because of unexpected disasters.

Pay yourself first
Many of us ensure that our bill and other financial commitments are taken care of in a timely manner but neglect the fundamental principle of paying ourselves. If one is to create wealth it is critical to pay your self first. During our working life, if we estimate 35 years, with an average annual income of $60,000 a person would have earned $2.1 million. With no financial direction and plan, there are many persons now entering into retirement with no real savings to tide them through the golden years. Also people are living much longer and so their savings are being stretched to the limit. If this person were to save an average of 10%, he would have with 0% interest saved over $210,000.

Create a will
It has been a misnomer that wills are only for the rich, but this is not the case. You may have assets of sentimental value, such as family heirlooms and personal items. Your will dictates how your assets will be distributed after you have departed. A will can even dictate who should take custody of your children in case of your untimely departure. Many successful persons have utilized wills to ensure that their wealth last for generations and that their legacy is preserved for as long as possible.

Control your debt
The credit crisis has brought to the forefront the danger of over-leveraging. There are many people today who are facing financial ruin simply because they borrowed more than was financially prudent. It is important that one’s debt to asset ratio not exceed 30%. For example if one has assets of $100,000, he should not borrow more than $30,000. This level of borrowing is healthy enough for him to leverage his position, without it becoming dangerous to his financial health. It is also a great strategy to renegotiate debts in times of low interest rates, in order to reduce the financial strain on a person’s cash flow.

Have a long Term Care Solution
One can do a great job at saving, investing, but can still be at great financial risk if there is no long-term health care plan. People are living much longer and health care is becoming increasing expensive. It is important to have a great health care plan to ensure that in case of major medical issues, one does not have to utilize his life savings to pay for it.

I trust that the above simple financial strategies have provided you with some valuable advice to assist you with your overall financial goals and plans, and wish you continued wealth and prosperity."

© Inshan Meahjohn 2009