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Funding Your Future

The 4 Life Stages of Financial Literacy

Photo: Courtesy of Sharon McCutcheon

All of us want the financial resources to live a comfortable life at each stage of our lives. We want to be able to purchase the items and services we desire as we are accumulating savings for unexpected expenses, retirement, and leisure activities. We must gain financial knowledge to maximize our assets and understand the financial responsibilities that occur throughout our lifetimes.

The earlier we learn how credit works, develop a budget to control expenses, establish financial goals, make investments and protect against risk, the better off we will be at each stage of life. Financial knowledge helps us to avoid living life in a panicked state about money, and decreases our stress. Here are key actions to take at each life stage:

1. 18 to 34

Determine your financial values and establish financial goals, such as reduction debt. Learn how to use savings and investment vehicles to accumulate savings for a home purchase and retirement. Limit the purchase of personal-use assets and credit card debt.

2. 35 to 50

Increase investments and retirement savings from salary increases to continue building a financial base. Stay on track to achieve your goals. Maintain emergency funds. Review your spending and make adjustments if necessary. Invest in college savings plans, such as a 529. Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing your retirement savings to pay for your child’s college education.

3. 51 to 69

Identify your planned lifestyle upon retirement, including estimation of expected living expenses and income during retirement. Begin to reduce or limit outstanding debt, review accumulated retirement accounts (Employer contribution plans like 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts, non-retirement accounts and estimated Social Security benefits).

4. 70 to 87

Learn to control reoccurring living expenses and rate of retirement income withdrawals from your retirement accounts. Review your estate plan, including your will and/or trust.

At each age, the key to “having what you need when you need it” is learning how to use personal money management concepts to your advantage and understanding how they relate to your financial well-being. Remember — use your money wisely to build contentment, wealth, and power.

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