By Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP®
We’ve all procrastinated at some point. Maybe it was a homework assignment when you were in school or that house chore that just never seemed to get done. When we procrastinate on these little things, usually the consequences aren’t too large. But if you put off creating a plan for your financial future, you could be setting yourself up for disaster.
Financial planning isn’t the most glamorous task to spend time doing, but it saves you money and stress in the long run and allows you to focus on other, more enjoyable activities you have going on. Here are the top reasons you should stop procrastinating and start planning today.
1. You’re Probably Not Saving As Much As You Should
The first reason you shouldn’t put off financial planning is that you may not be saving as much as you should. That’s not to say that the savings you do have shouldn’t be celebrated.
If you plan to retire in your mid-60s, your retirement savings may need to carry you through 30-plus years. Not to mention rising inflation that will decrease the value of your savings over time and the additional expenses you will likely encounter along the way. A study by the Center for Retirement Research estimated that the median retirement savings of Americans ages 55-64 is $120,000, yet the average retirement cost is nearly $46,000 per year!1 2
A sound strategy to avoid running out of money in retirement is to work with a financial professional to understand what your savings can handle. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot use a multiple of your annual income to determine how much to save. This is why it’s so crucial to plan ahead. The sooner you understand your need, the more options you will have and the easier your goals will be to accomplish.
2. Healthcare Costs Are on the Rise
If you’ve ever held a hefty medical bill in your hand, you aren’t alone. Healthcare costs in America are among the highest in the world.3 And as you age, you will likely require more healthcare services. According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, the average couple at age 65 will need about $300,000 saved to cover healthcare costs in retirement.4 Most people don’t even have that much in their retirement accounts to live on, let alone cover medical costs.
Given the events of the past two years and continuing inflation, it’s more important than ever to start preparing for the ever-increasing cost of care. The longer you wait, the less options you’ll have. Working with an experienced professional can help you evaluate your options and build a long-term plan for healthcare.
3. Tax Strategies Take Multiple Years to Implement
Another reason not to put off financial planning is that if you don’t start early, you’ll miss out on several tax strategies that take years to implement, including:
Tax-Advantaged Retirement Savings
If you’re in a high tax bracket, being able to save for retirement with pre-tax dollars is a great advantage because pre-tax contributions reduce your taxable income and ultimately reduce the amount of taxes you owe. This strategy could save you thousands of dollars in taxes each year. The earlier you start, the more you’ll save over the course of your career.
Roth conversions help to increase your retirement savings and decrease your long-term tax liability by transferring funds from a pre-tax retirement vehicle (traditional IRA) to an after-tax account (Roth IRA). This allows your money to grow tax-free for as long as you’d like, and required minimum distributions (RMDs) are avoided as well.
When it comes to withdrawing from your retirement accounts, how you take your distributions can make all the difference. Each retirement asset (employer-sponsored accounts, Social Security, traditional IRAs, etc.) has different tax characteristics. Creating a withdrawal strategy can help lower your tax burden by structuring withdrawals from each income source in a tax-efficient way.
To properly implement these strategies and more, a long-term understanding of your full financial picture is required. Putting off financial planning can leave you stuck with a huge tax bill that could have been avoided.
4. Take Advantage of Compound Interest
Just as saving early allows you to take advantage of massive tax savings over time, there is a compound effect that occurs with the money that is invested as well. The money contributed to your retirement account each year can grow exponentially over time, but the key part of that equation is time.
A single penny that doubles every day for a month may not seem like much on the surface, especially when compared to $1 million up front. But by the time the 30th day rolls around, you will have over $5 million in pennies. This same concept can be applied to your retirement account, but because retirement investments are at the mercy of the highs and lows of the stock market, it will take more than 30 days to see that kind of growth.
If you wait to invest, you may be missing out on growth year after year, and the resulting loss of earnings can be substantial. Not to mention the potential for loss when you try to invest yourself without the proper advice and guidance of a professional. We’ve found that many clients are often invested too conservatively and miss out on the opportunity for significant growth in even just a slightly riskier portfolio.
5. Financial Planning Can Alleviate Stress
Do you feel 100% confident about the myriad of financial choices you make day in and day out? Have you encountered more complexity as your assets have grown? Partnering with a financial professional can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes from trying to figure out your finances.
Think about all the time you spend worrying over finances and whether you are saving enough money. Are those thoughts preventing you from making great memories and actually living your life? For many of our clients, the answer is yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Financial planning can help alleviate the stress that comes from not knowing where you stand or how to achieve your goals. It can provide clarity by defining a path from point A to point B and allowing you to get the most out of your life along the way.
Get Started Today
Hopefully by now you can see the importance of starting the financial planning process as soon as possible. You might think you have all the time in the world, but when you consider the large financial goals you hope to meet someday, like buying a house, saving for college, or retirement, you realize how quickly time actually goes. But you’re not alone in this! Working with a professional with the skill and wisdom to help you navigate your future is one of the best decisions you can make right now!
At Elevate Wealth Management, we understand that your financial plan isn’t just an assortment of dollar amounts. It’s your life story. Our mission is to help young professionals, pre-retirees, and retirees take control of their life stories and feel confident about their future. Schedule an introductory meeting by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.673.5675.
Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP® is a financial advisor at Elevate Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only wealth management firm serving young professionals, pre-retirees, and retirees in Sheridan, Wyoming, and surrounding areas. With the mission of serving and educating, Jim is dedicated to providing comprehensive, top-notch services that not only help his clients reach their goals, but also empower them to make the best financial decisions for their lives and walk toward their future with confidence. Jim is known for going the extra mile, not only offering valuable knowledge in investment management as a former investment analyst, but building long-lasting relationships so he can give honest, customized advice and strategies that make an impact on their lives.
Jim has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in finance from the University of Wyoming. He is proud to be a Wyoming native and loves exploring the outdoors with his family—hiking, fishing, hunting, and backpacking. Faith is an integral part of Jim’s life, and he always looks forward to attending church on Sundays, Bible study on Fridays, and being part of his church community. He’s also an avid sports fan! Fun fact: Jim owns shares in the Green Bay Packers. To learn more about Jim, connect with him on LinkedIn.
The views expressed represent the opinion of Frontier Asset Management. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. While Frontier Asset Management believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. The use of such sources does not constitute an endorsement. Frontier does not have an affiliation with any author, company or security noted within. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and the Frontier Asset Management’s view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Frontier does not provide tax advice. Please consult with a CPA for recommendations pertaining to individual circumstances.
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