Small Mistakes, Big Consequences

As humans, we make mistakes all the time. Some mistakes may relate to your career choice. Other mistakes may relate to the location of your home. However, some of us make, seemingly, small mistakes and don’t realize the impact the outcomes will bring to our lives.

Small mistake #1: Failing to save for retirement early in your career. When a person is 23 years of age, the future seems so distant. Their entire career is just launching from the starting gates of their recent college graduation and time is their friend. Fast forward twenty-five years and the person is looking at their future with a different lens. Kids, mortgage, car payments, and other living expenses caused by the choices made many years earlier has redirected their otherwise retirement savings to current expenses of life.

The obvious outcome is one that none of us wishes to realize – working until we are much older than we would prefer. By initiating your future savings at the beginning of your career, time and compounding of money will help you realize your financial goals later in life. Start with your employer’s plan and contribute at least the amount the company will match. For example, if your employer matches 5% of your salary then you should seek a goal of contributing 5% of your salary. The math is easy on this one. You will have doubled your contribution amount annually with the employer’s matching contribution. Let’s assume the markets treated you favorable and the investment in your employer’s plan grew by 8% for the year. Now, you can experience growth far beyond your 5% initial deferral from your salary. 

Small mistake #2: Failing to live within your means. A philosophy practiced in our retirement planning business is one of “pay yourself first” for our clients. You want to do things differently in your life than most of your friends – save first, spend second. What this means is that you will treat your retirement contributions as a priority before incurring and spending your earnings on current pleasures of life. Too often we experience clients that meet with us that have all the toys of the day but lack any liquid savings or future investments.

Maximize your probability for retirement success by implementing a budget and focus on “paying yourself first”. By taking a more realistic approach to your future, you will continue to enjoy life and enjoy it more abundantly when you retire. Of course, prudent investment selection and monitoring are critical during the accumulation phase of life. You may wish to seek the guidance of a Certified Financial Planner practitioner to initiate your plan and provide you annual feedback on your progress.

Small mistake #3: Allowing your credit card balance to remain unpaid after one month. This is something that too many of us fall victim to early in life and it is a difficult problem to solve if left unattended. Based on a survey performed by Nerdwallet in January, 2021, the average balance carried on a credit card is $7,149 and the U.S. household will pay interest charges of $1,155 on average for 2021. Further, the survey discovered 63% of the responses indicated that they feel their household finances have worsened from that of the previous year.

The best method of controlling the interest accruing on credit card balances is to remember the card is for emergency purposes only. Do not use a credit card for a purchase that can’t be paid in full with your current savings or income. To be obvious, the use of a credit card is a means to live outside your current means. 

To resolve this mistake, use a debit card that immediately withdraws the funds from your bank account. Another method of solving the credit card debt issue is to ask your credit card issuer to draft the full payment each month from your checking account. This is a critical step since you must be certain the funds are available for the payment each month.

Lastly, place your credit card in a small plastic bowl of water. Place the bowl in the freezer and leave it there for about 3 days. Remove the bowl and note the credit card is safely stored in a block of ice that requires thought and effort to free the card. I know this sounds silly, but it is effective for those people who are impulse buyers with their credit cards.

Don’t wait to improve your life by eliminating or resolving these three little mistakes from your life. Seek out a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to guide you in managing your cash flow to maximize your future savings. What have you got to lose? Worry, anxiety, stress, etc. See you on the golf course!

Related Podcasts

How to Retire Worry-Free

If you are like many of our clients, prior to retiring, you are concerned about the process and ability to continue your current lifestyle after discontinuing your career. This is a valid concern and one that we address with every client considering retirement. To provide confidence and courage to initiate this important step, and truly enjoy retirement, we developed a unique process that alleviates these concerns and empowers our clients with predictability in their lives. Do you have a process to create the retirement lifestyle you desire?

First, you must develop a mental approach to retirement that is healthy. Worry will do nothing to resolve a challenge but make it feel more overwhelming that it truly is. To create confidence in your life, we assist our clients with the identification and implementation of activities that generate positive thoughts and enhance self-esteem. You are probably wondering what this step has to do with a successful retirement plan? It is the key ingredient! Thinking about others, showing gratitude and fulfilling the needs of others are the truly valuable “assets” in a person’s life. Qualitative characteristics of retirement are as critical to the process material resources. This stage of the process has nothing to do with money, budgets or investments. However, if we can help you become more confident by helping others, the process of retiring is simply a transition from focusing on your career to focusing on others in your community.

Helping others is one method of creating a worry-free retirement. Seek out those in need and create a legacy for yourself through service.

Next, we assist our clients in creating expectations for the next phase of life. To expect more income from your resources, than you properly prepared for during your accumulation years, is to set a tone of frustration for yourself. By prudently projecting reasonable returns and estimating living expenses that are realistic, you will reap the predictable, recurring and adequate lifestyle that you need to live worry-free. Many people believe it is too late to correct course on their retirement plan after the initial decisions have been made. This is not true. You can always create a better tomorrow through proper planning and executing on adjustments to create the life you desire. Your goal in retirement should be to maximize your quality of life. Life is too short to live in worry. A wise, old football coach, Leo Thurman, often offered advice to those around him. One such profound statement is:

“Son it don’t take long to live a lifetime.”

—Leo Thurman

Lastly, to mitigate worry, you must utilize a continuous monitoring system to help you manage your lifestyle and “stay on track”. Unlike the infomercial that promises you can “set it and forget it”, life is somewhat more challenging. You must adopt a mindset that anything worthwhile is going to require some input of your time, talents and resources. Don’t tackle a job without the proper tools and experience. You only get one chance to retire the first time. Seek out a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner that specializes in the needs and desires of retirees to help you build a plan that is sound and creates a worry-free retirement for you.

Related Podcasts