By Kristi De Rycke, Registered Assistant
Comparing Roth versus traditional IRAs, understanding qualified versus non-qualified and determining contribution limits was probably not something that you learned prior to working. Then as you were starting to make real income you were also paying bills, learning your new job, and possibly figuring out marriage. Maybe you started contributing to a retirement plan and started an emergency fund. That is a great start, but do you know what you are invested in? Do you know how risky the portfolio is? Do you know if you are contributing enough to make your goals? Are you getting the full company match? Is your money in the right type of account for you? Not sure of one or all of these questions. No problem! This can help you find your path to better financial knowledge. You can learn how to manage your money or manage it better. You CAN improve your results. Do not stop reading, you’ve got this! We will go through how I know that you can learn how to do this (yes even you), how to start this process and what to do if you don’t want to spend much time learning new information on this.
I am 100% sure that you can learn how to manage your own finances. How do I know that? I know because you have done this before. There was a time in your life when you started learning something new. Maybe you were the 5-year-old that started t-ball or soccer. Possibly you were the 8-year-old that started piano lessons. Could you have been the 10-year-old competing in gymnastics or dance with students that were much more skilled? Do you remember when you were in high school and taking a foreign language or in a play for the first time? I know that you were either the student in college learning a new career or a new employee learning from on-the-job training. The point is that you have learned new things before. Somehow, as we get older it is harder to be in the position of discomfort at not being good at something. We are no longer as used to being new at things. We are used to being more skilled at what we do. For those of you who are parents, do you remember that time in your life when you were new at parenting. Personally, I had worked in pediatrics as an occupational therapist for 12 years when I was blessed with my daughter. I was pretty confident that with that experience I would be skilled at motherhood. I had read countless research articles, attended conferences, and worked with many different kids including infants. So, I held my head up high and felt prepared. I vividly remember the moment when the nurse handed me my child wrapped in a blanket. Panic set in. I truly knew nothing about being a mother! But with mothers and fathers before me, I figured it out along the way. I read things, googled things, and asked countless questions to family and friends. Most importantly I went with trial and error (and there were many errors). I fully recognize that I am not perfect at it but think she did better with me trying than if I would have left her on her own to handle things.
I truly think that people feel that they don’t know what to do with their finances, so no action is better than the wrong action. They sign up for their retirement plan and then set it and forget it for many years. They fear going in and messing something up. Can you imagine if I would have left my daughter in the other room thinking she would do a better job of raising herself? Well, that does not work with children, and it won’t work with your finances. They need tended to. You have to take action to make sure they are being looked at on a regularly basis.
Right now, I can envision two different reactions to reading this. Either you can find anything better to do with your time or you are excited about the possibility of gaining new money management knowledge. I intend to give each of you direction for the next step that you should take. Let’s start with those of you who are thinking it would be less painful to pull out your own teeth than spend hours learning about this stuff. That is really ok. Find your own passions and pursue them. Do what you do and do it well. That doesn’t, however, let you off the hook. You must act. You should reach out to someone you trust that is passionate about financial planning to help guide you in these matters. All it takes is a phone call to get you started. Pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. Then between now and your appointment gather your statements for your accounts and bring those to that appointment to give your advisor the full financial picture. You will be taking care of your finances and getting someone on your team that knows how to assess your investments, your goals, your risk level and determine if you are on the right path.
Now for those of you that have always wanted to know more about finances and how to manage your money. How do you proceed? Think back to one new thing that you have done in your life either in childhood or adulthood. What did you do to gain skills and knowledge? Personally, I was in the middle of a totally different career when I started my journey down financial planning and money matters. I was realizing that adulting was not as much fun as it had looked. I was young and groceries and rent cost a lot of money. I feared that I could not manage my own finances. I had a 401K as an option but didn’t really have a clue what to do with it. I had never had a class or information on doing it so how could I possibly start. That fear and anxiety is what drove me to the library. I started with basic finance magazines. They seemed less daunting than an entire financial book. Then, I found the books on tape. That’s right, I did say on tape. They still had those options at the library. I had to dig out my dusty cassette player and headphones to listen to them. Since then, I have read scores of magazines and books, listened to hours of podcasts and took video courses. Turns out that I was able to manage my own finances and loved learning about this topic. This led to the career I currently am in I studied for and passed my Series 7. Do I have it all figured out? No way. I continue to read digital and paper magazines, download audiobooks, listen to You-Tube videos and podcasts, and ask a lot of questions to anyone that might know the answers. That is what Kristi’s Koffee Talk is all about. I love learning new things and sharing them.
If you are feeling a little glimmer of excitement of gaining new skills and learning new things, then start today! Head to eBay or the library and search for basic financial planning, money management or retirement planning books. Start with a basic overview and then dig into individual topics that interest you. You will find that you may need to read things more than once or that the second time you read about a topic it starts to make more sense. If you find a difficult topic, look for other ways it is taught. Subscribe to a podcast or webinar. Our mission at Johnson Insurance is to provide you with a lot of different information in short pieces so you can fit learning into your busy lives. Check out many educational blogs and videos in the learn tab of our website. Subscribe to our You Tube videos. Sign up for our emails if you have not already. If you find yourself wanting more information on a specific topic or having a question you cannot find the answer to, reach out to us. I love researching new topics and providing the information. Be patient with yourself. An athlete will not make it to the Olympics after his first year of playing hockey and neither will you. Everything worth doing is worth doing well so take it one step at a time.
No matter what your response was to this idea, you need to take a first step: Find an advisor that you trust and set up an appointment to make sure you are on the right track. OR. Find one resource to start reading every week to continue to educate your self on options.
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Regardless of your preference I strongly encourage you to either find a trusted advisor to help manage your finances or if you have the time and desire to self educate don't put it off any longer. Information is at your fingertips!
By Greg Johnson
It all comes down to time, expertise, and most importantly desire to want to learn how to manage your finances. No different than if I wanted to learn how to work on my own vehicle I’m sure I could figure it out, but I value my time and expertise on the skills that I have and want to utilize those to the best of my ability. The same is true for people who know they have financial goals, but don’t have the time to educate themselves on the how to reach them. That is what we are here for, it’s what we are passionate about, to help other people excel. Find a trusted advisor to help you manage your affairs and you go be the best version of yourself in whatever you are passionate about.