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Planning For The Future: Where To Start

It can be difficult to know where to begin when planning for the future, especially if your finances are already tight. When thinking about how to get your estate in order, how to create a college fund for your children, or working out a retirement plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things you’ll need to consider. The safest way to avoid this is by sitting down and making a list of all the things you want to accomplish. Start small, such as saving money by clipping coupons, then work your way up to creating a budget, and so on.

It will absolutely be necessary to have your spouse or partner involved in these decisions, so make sure you sit down together and keep communication open. If you’re single, consider asking for help from a parent or trusted friend. Not only can they offer advice, they’ll also be a wonderful support system when it comes to sticking to your budget.

Here are some other ways you can begin to plan for the future without the stress.

Get frugal

If you’re already living on a tight budget, it may seem like there’s not much wiggle room for saving money, but you might be surprised at all the small ways you can pinch a penny. Aside from clipping coupons, signing up for emails from businesses to receive discounts, carpooling to save on gas, and scouring the sale ads when it’s time to go grocery shopping, you can also think outside the box for ways to save. These include switching your ceiling fans to turn the opposite way in winter so they push hot air down from the ceiling, cutting your heating costs; making sure your car’s tires are filled to the right air pressure, helping you avoid excessive gas use; signing up for a membership to a bulk store for the items you know you use a lot; and making your own laundry soap and cleansers.

You may also want to look at the bigger picture, including your home. Can you really afford your current home, or does it make sense to downsize? There are lots of things to consider when it comes to downsizing, but if you’re not planning on having any more kids (or any at all) or struggle with your month-to-month bills, you may want to ask yourself if moving to a smaller home is the best option for you and your family.

Plan for college

If you have young children, the idea of college might seem so far away that you have plenty of time to prepare. In reality, most parents need to start saving right after the birth of their child to be able to sock enough away to pay for four years of higher education and everything that comes with it. So what do you do? Come up with a plan for saving now. Opening up a savings account--or a 529 college savings account, which garners tax incentives for you over the years--is a good start, but you can also start asking certain friends and family to forgo buying your children toys and video games for birthdays and holidays and writing a check in their name instead. With UGift, your loved ones’ contributions to your child’s higher education can be sent directly to their account.

Invest in preventative care

No one likes to go to the dentist, doctor, or mechanic, but if you take care of things before they become an issue, you won’t have to lay out a ton of money down the road to fix them. Make regular appointments for the dentist and for wellness checkups, and make sure you take your car in regularly so that they can change the oil, check the tires, and replace items like the air filter once they get to a certain age.

Start a retirement plan

Thinking years ahead may seem like a difficult task, but it’s necessary when you’re planning for future finances. It might be helpful to ask an older family member about things they had to tackle once they reached retirement age so you’ll get an idea of what to plan for. This includes not only a retirement fund to help get you through the golden years, but also thinking about your living situation. As a senior, would you be able to navigate safely through the home you live in now? If not, then once again, downsizing may be your best option down the road. Many people downsize in their golden years and use the profit from the home they sell to bolster their retirement savings.

With a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you can make a solid plan for your future. It’s easier to look ahead when you are saving money wherever possible, setting aside money for college, and preparing for retirement.

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