Are you worried about your financial future? Scared about being able to afford to retire? Maybe you are scared about affording health care or if an emergency will wipe you out. If you have any of these concerns, it is time to face your fears head on and start making things happen so that if anything unfortunate should happen you will be able to afford to handle them. Of course, the same applies to being able to afford retirement. If you want to retire one day, you need to start working on things now.
What If You Just Ignore Your Financial Future?
Ignoring things seems as though it’s the easiest solution. You won’t have worry and can enjoy life right now. But this doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it only guarantees that you will experience the pain and troubles in the future. No one wants that. You have to start making moves now to better your financial future.
At the end of the day, you have a decision to make: do you want to experience short-term enjoyment now for long-term pain in the future or do you want to suffer a little bit now so that your future self need not worry about things? Personally, I choose to suffer a little bit now so that I don’t have to worry in the future.
Handling Heath Care
Health care is one of our biggest expenses. The good news is that with The Affordable Care Act, anyone can buy insurance. You should plan on going to the government website and looking at all of the various plans they offer, regardless if you need coverage or not. When you do this, look for a plan that would meet your needs and is also affordable. Once you find your plan, write down the monthly cost. Now you have an amount you need to budget for should you ever need that health care. In addition, you’ll avoid the new penalty for going without health insurance.
I have personally done this as my wife and I are both thinking of leaving our full time jobs for self-employment. We want to have a cushion for expenses and wanted to get an idea of what healthcare was going to cost us. Now we have a clearer picture of how to budget so we can afford to take the next step in our careers.
Emergencies happen all of the time. They are part of life. By having money set aside for them, you will take a lot of uncertainty and worry out of your life. First, you need to sit down and figure out your monthly expenses. Once you have this total, you need to multiply it by 8. This will give you 8 months worth of living expenses should you lose your job. When you figure this number out, be sure to include the cost of health care from the step above.
Now you need to start building this emergency fund. Start off by setting up a savings account and then set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Have the transfer occur whenever you are paid. Transfer as much as you can without missing the money. For most, you should be able to transfer at least $20 without issue.
From there, you need to find other ways to boost the value of this account. Find things around the house you no longer use or want and sell them online. Any money you earn should go into your savings account. Similarly, run through your expenses and find things you no longer need and cancel the subscriptions. Again, take the savings and put it into your savings account.
Lastly, take any windfalls of money you come into, inheritances, tax refunds, etc. and put that money into your savings account as well. I know it’s not sexy or fun to do this, but it has to be done. If you ever want to experience a life where money isn’t a worry, you are going to have to do this.
Read More: How Big Should Your Emergency Fund Be?
Retirement is scary for many because they aren’t sure if Social Security will still be around when they retire. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, Social Security became the money you retire on. It was never meant to be your sole income source during retirement. It was set up as a safety net to keep you from being completely penniless.
Because of this, when I save for retirement, I don’t include Social Security. I simply assume it won’t be there for me. If it is, then it’s a bonus.
Once you have your emergency fund completely funded, you should concentrate on saving more for retirement. Of course, while are you are building up your emergency fund, you should be contributing to your work 401k plan if you are receiving a company match.
After you finish your emergency fund, you really need to ramp up the savings in your retirement account. Start by making it a point to increase the amount you save in your 401k by 1% every year. Assuming you get a raise every year, you shouldn’t miss the few extra dollars that is going towards your 401k.
Next, your goal is to start saving in a Roth IRA. You can save $5,500 in a Roth for 2014 ($6,500 if you are 50 and older). Be sure to read all of the requirements before investing here. Again, take any windfalls of money from tax returns and put that money into a Roth IRA (or Backdoor Roth IRA if your income is too high).
Additionally, once you funded your emergency fund, you can’t go back to spending like you were before. You have to keep saving money. The only difference is that the money you are now saving should go towards your Roth IRA.
Read More: To Roth 401k or Not to Roth 401k?
As I mentioned earlier in the post, if you want to rid yourself of financial worry for the future, you are going to have to make some changes today. All of them won’t be fun, but it is a tradeoff that you have to decide on. Do you want to live it up now and suffer in the future, or do you want to scale things back now and enjoy your future life? I’m not saying that if you save now, you have to be a miser and be completely miserable, but you do have to forego some of the extras that you are used to enjoying today. It’s your decision in the end. If you choose to live life now and ignore the future, you can’t blame anyone else for your situation because you chose to ignore it.