In the spirit of February… let’s talk about the ones you love!
When we think of financial responsibility, we often think in the present. Daily living and immediate needs come to mind, such as budgeting for necessities like food, shelter, and education. Perhaps these things are taken care of, but you have bigger goals like saving for a family vacation, purchasing a big screen television, or updating your kitchen. Once we fulfill our basic needs and have disposable income, our financial legacy often stops there; additionally, only 56% of American retirees plan on leaving an inheritance for their family members. For the other 44%, it is critical to consider financial protection and preparation for the long-term. In the words of Nikki Beasley, Executive Director at Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services, “Accumulating, building, and protecting one’s wealth is essential to creating a financial legacy.”
If you would like to get started, there’s good news: you don’t have to be rich to do so. All it takes is a thoughtful and strategic mindset to protect your most important asset – your family. For starting points on your journey to a financially secure future, consider the following:
The 50/30/20 Rule
Though it can vary based on income, circumstances, or needs at the time, most sources recommend that you should save at least 20% of your monthly income. The main reason to save is so that one day you will no longer need to work for that money. It helps create the basis for financial independence and will allow you to enjoy more of what you earned as you age. After these savings, half of your income should be spent on living expenses like mortgages, rent, utilities, transportation, and food. The remaining 30% is then available for entertainment, events, or evenings out. This formula guides you to living and saving comfortably while being able to afford needs and wants.
401K or IRA
For those Americans with access to an employer-sponsored 401(k)-style retirement plan, consistent contributions can actually make you a millionaire. Participation and investment in these types of accounts typically increases with age, but investing early on can keep you ahead of the curve and grow the financial legacy you wish to achieve. If you do not have one of these, talk to your employer and see what options are part of your company’s employment package. If a 401(k) plan is not available, there are plenty of other alternatives such as traditional IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, or health savings accounts (HSA’s).
Personal Possessions/Emotional Value
Knowing or estimating the values of family heirlooms is important prior to passing them down to future generations of children or grandchildren. Popular objects include clocks, photos, furniture, and jewelry. In getting your valuables assessed, you can ensure that they are priced correctly. Whether or not the recipient decides to keep them, rest assured that they will hold their proper value.
It’s important to be on the same page as your spouse for all of the items listed in your will. This document will decide who receives certain belongings in the future, and that can be children, charities, or other cherished individuals that would be best suited for owning these possessions. Doing so provides clarity among all parties and helps to prevent difficult decisions or family disagreements in the future.
Being mindful of these factors can help you prepare and leave behind a financial legacy for generations to come. Taking action and planning early will ultimately save financial burdens for others down the road. Preparing yourself and your loved ones for the future doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated, and Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services is here to help. For information and advice on how to start working towards your own legacy, reach out to us at [email protected], call (510) 237-6459, or check out our events page for our upcoming Money Matters Series workshop.