A Family Financial Planning Checklist: A Guide for Every Decade

Whether you are 20, 30 or 40 years old, planning for your future— and the future of your family— can be a complex process. It’s hard to know what to do, and it’s especially challenging to know when to do it.

If you’re in your 20s and just out of college or starting your career climb, you may not think too much about retirement and life insurance, but when you’re in your 30s and 40s, you may wish you did. Financial planning doesn’t have to be confusing when you break it down into manageable steps. Here are a few ideas to help you cover the basics in every stage of life.


The World Is Your Oyster: Financial Planning Tips in Your 20s

Your 20s is a great time for practicing good financial habits. For example, how much you save might not be as important as the fact that you are saving. Starting that mindset now will set you up for success when the time comes that both your income and your family are growing. Build good financial habits now by:

  • Saving 5-10 percent of your income. That may seem like a lot now, especially with an entry-level income, but it means you’ll have to save less in your 40s and 50s for retirement.
  • Creating a budget and sticking to it. A budget doesn’t have to be rigid or inflexible. Budget planning means you are actively paying attention to your spending habits.
  • Avoiding debt. You’re going to have a lot of opportunity to build up debt— credit cards often target college students, and you might be tempted to buy a brand new car to go along with your brand new job. Be savvy about big purchases that could wind up costing more than you thought.


The Young Professional: Financial Planning Tips in Your 30s

Your 30s can be a time where you thrive financially. You are advancing your career. You are finished with your education. You are growing your family and creating roots. You can take your financial planning to the next level by:

  • Making sure your growing family is safe by planning for unexpected losses. One way to do this is to sign up for a life insurance policy. Look into a 30-year term life insurance policy to protect your family should you or your spouse pass away unexpectedly.
  • Diversifying your investments for long-term gains. By spreading your investments out into small, medium and large stocks, you can both reduce the risk of loss and maximize potential for growth.


The Seasoned Pro: Financial Planning Tips in Your 40s

Many people hit major milestones in their 40s. Your career may be booming. Your children are becoming teenagers, and your interests are changing. Stay at the top of your financial planning game by:

  • Keeping an eye on your credit. You are likely paying off high-interest debt or maybe making some major purchases, so monitor your credit score closely.
  • Planning for unexpected contingencies. Do you know how your family would survive if you suddenly lost your job or suffered a major illness? Separate your savings into an emergency fund, and look into adding disability insurance to your life insurance policy.
  • Starting or updating your estate plan and your will. This will help you ensure your family is covered should you pass away unexpectedly.


The Comfortable Midlife: Financial Planning Tips in Your 50s

Your 50s can be a time for a lot of new things, but new debt isn’t one of them. That includes bringing on debt for your children. If you hope to retire in your 60s, then you’ll want this decade to focus on:

  • Assessing your need for long-term care. If you have a family history of dementia, or you have been managing chronic conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure, think about purchasing long-term care insurance. The premiums will be much lower when you are younger and healthier.
  • Investing more in your 401(k). The U.S. government allows people in their 50s to invest more into their retirement plans, so now is the time to really fatten up those portfolios.
  • Paying off your house. The best way to ensure your financial future is to pay off your home. That frees up a considerable amount of monthly expenditures for investments and savings.

When you hit your 60s, retirement is on the horizon. That doesn’t mean your financial planning slows down. Placing all the final touches now can make it so that when you do retire, you have fewer financial worries. You can downsize your home, make accessibility modifications, and discuss or even prepay end-of-life arrangements. 

Financial planning isn’t just about money in the bank. It’s about you enjoying your life and making sure the people in it feel safe, secure and comfortable.

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