Write a Last Will and Testament

It is easy to admit that most Americans find themselves in bad financial shape and have no idea how they even arrived at that state. Some may think to themselves, I’m educated. I went to college. I know how to take care of my own money. I can tell you right now that just because you have a degree under your belt or just because you have a good-paying job, that does not make you any less vulnerable to the financial instability that people eventually wrestle with. Here are the key financial problems that plague Americans today and ways you can avoid them altogether.

Credit Cards

Say No to credit cards. From the millisecond you turn eighteen, credit card companies will start preying on you to take their “low interest” cards and start buying all of those incredible things you have only dreamed of, like a surround sound system or the newest computer. To this day, I get at least four or five credit card offers in my mailbox daily.

Credit card companies are such an easy trap to fall into because, even if you don’t have a job, you will get approved. Unless you pay your credit card bill off every single month and accumulate no interest (and surprisingly very few people do), tear up all the offers you have and cut up all of your credit cards. They are not cards of free money. They have something called revolving interest which means that every single day, interest accumulates ON TOP OF interest. It is a deep ravine to climb out of, so steer clear of them.

Emergency Funds

Most people live paycheck to paycheck and have no extra money to speak of. What this means is that when an emergency arises, they will either take out a loan or use their credit card, both of which require paying interest and sometimes years to pay off. Stop buying that expensive mocha every single morning and instead put that towards accumulating an emergency fund, so you never have to fall back on plastic.

Life Insurance

Whether or not you have group insurance at work, get your family some life insurance. You might ask yourself why bother if you only pay a couple of bucks a month for that group insurance policy they offer at work. Unless you signed a guarantee when they hired you saying they would NEVER lay you off or NEVER fire you, that job is not secure. When they lay you off, they will not give you your life insurance to take with you, no matter how nice they are.

By getting your own personal policy for your family, you are securing yourself and your family. If something were to happen to you or your spouse and you relied on their income and had no life insurance, your family would be entering a tunnel of financial misery. Ask your financial advisor to recommend how much coverage you and your family will need and get it. Also, do not be scammed into buying a cash value policy. You will get more coverage at a lower cost if you go with a level term policy.

Financial Planning

How long did you spend planning your last family vacation? Probably a couple of weeks or at least a couple of days. Now, how long have you spent planning your financial future, including your retirement and your children’s education funds? Most people find it too scary to sit down and create a financial plan.

Hire a financial advisor to help you hash out a financial plan. There are companies out there that don’t charge hundreds of dollars an hour to get this done for you if you look around. This person will act as your financial coach to ensure you stay on track.

Retirement and Education Funds

Some people think of their retirement as this far-off event and tell themselves they have time to start saving. No, you don’t. Retirement will be here before you know it and there is no better time to start saving than now. By holding off on investing for your future, you are only cutting down on all those years where your efforts and money will be compounded and working for you.

The same goes for education funds for your kids. If you begin investing for them as soon as they are born, you will not have to put as much away monthly as you would if you waited until they were 9 or 10 years old. Speak to your financial advisor to get you started on these funds.

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