By Nathanael Hughes
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to put your financial planning on the back burner.
It's also easy for the treadmill of life to sweep us up through work, caring for children, home repairs, taking care of pets, etc. it can be hard to find time for anything else.
However, when you make your financial health a priority, you can rest easy knowing that you'll be building a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones.
Whether your goal is to get out of debt or save for the things you want today achieving your goals starts with a comprehensive financial plan.
This plan will be one of your keys to preparing for potential financial risks, saving for the future and planning for retirement. Get on track with these five easy tips:
Know where you stand.
Before you know where you're going, you must know where you are today. Review your current assets, debts, expenses, and income sources.
Get a clear view of your financial situation by:
-Tracking your spending to see where your money is going
-Checking your credit profile.
-Reviewing past financial successes and failures.
-Making sure your finances are adequately protected.
-Calculating your net worth.
Create detailed and personal goals.
When setting goals, it's important to make them specific and relatable. For example, 'saving for vacation' isn't as motivating as saving $5,000 by January for a vacation to Hawaii.
Making sure your goals are SMART Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and have a Timeline will help propel you to achieve them.
Partner to create a plan.
Partnering with a trusted financial advisor will help you to map out strategies that can get you to your goals and set a time frame for reaching them.
A financial professional can help you build a personalized plan to meet your short, mid, and long-term goals no matter how big or small. With some expert help, you can easily crunch the numbers, weigh options and map out a saving and investing strategy that's right for you.
Not all financial priorities are based on big life milestones. Sometimes achieving a seemingly small financial feat can be just what you need to get on the right track.
Unsure of where to begin? Here are some items to consider putting on your financial to-do list:
-Set a budget and stick to it.
-Build an emergency fund-aiming to have six months of living expenses socked away.
-Manage debt wisely (pay off high-interest and non-deductible debt first).
-Be strategic in your investment and saving decisions.
-Build your credit score
-Save for retirement-and take full advantage of your employer's retirement plan.
-Protect your assets and your income.
-Update your estate planning documents.
Review your plan regularly.
Life is filled with changes, both personal and financial.
Milestones like a new job or a new family member will impact your strategy. Make sure to meet with your financial advisor before one of these milestones; and at least annually to ensure your mix of investments, budget, and insurance options are current and accurately reflect your goals and risk tolerance.
To help you remember, plan to review your financial plan around the same time each year; the start of the new year or your birthday often works well.
As you strive to get your financial house in order, be sure to stay focused on the big picture.
Keep in mind that financial planning isn't a once-in-a-lifetime activity, it takes a strategic, steady effort to arrive at your destination.
With a little thought, effort, and planning, you may confidently achieve your financial goals.
Article prepared by Northwestern Mutual with the cooperation of Nathanael R Hughes, MBA. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its subsidiaries. Securities are offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member of FINRA and SIPC. Nathanael R Hughes is an agent of NM and registered representative of the NMIS based in Johnson City, TN. To contact Nathanael R Hughes, please call (423) 283-9545, email him at [email protected] or visit his website at nathanaelhughes.nm.com.