Developing good money habits can be difficult, but coming up with a plan to save—and sticking to it—doesn’t have to be. With today’s apps and the ability to automate payments, deposits, and transfers, creating savvy money habits is more feasible than ever. And of course, as we age, we are able to look back and wish we had known then what we know now. It’s never too late to start, or to have conversations about spending and saving with your kids (whether they’re young children, teenagers, or young adults).
Start Saving Early On
The money you put away during your younger years ends up being the most valuable dollars you contribute. If your retirement funds are invested in the stock market and you realize an overall gain this year, then those gains go on to also be invested.
As your money sits in savings or retirement savings accounts, it can earn compound interest—money earned on both the original balance and the interest that balance has earned. Basically, this means your money is making money, so the earlier you start, the more potential there is to save. I wish that when I was younger I’d been urged to maximize my 401(k) contributions and start an individual retirement account (IRA) separate from the employer retirement plan. There are other ways to maximize retirement savings as well.
Track Your Money
When I was younger, I had an overly simplistic view of money: earn it, spend it, and then do it all over again. It was very black and white. It’s important to understand and review your paycheck regularly to make sure you’re being paid the right amount and that the right amount of taxes and other deductions are being taken out. Understanding the income taxes you pay is crucial. If too much is being withheld, you may get a refund at the end of the year; too little, and you may be paying even more to the IRS.
Once you have a good grasp on what’s coming in, it’s also important to track what is going out. Build a simple plan for your money. Budgets can be simple. That’s right, they don’t have to be tedious and difficult to maintain. When I was younger, I wish I knew about the 50/30/20 method, where you allocate 50% for needs: housing, groceries, utilities, 30% for wants: shopping, gym, dining out, and 20% for savings: retirement and emergency funds.
Understand the Rule of 72
Once you have a bit of a nest egg built up, use the Rule of 72 to figure out how long it will take for that money to double in size. This is a simplified formula that calculates how long it will take for an investment to double in value, based on its rate of return. To do this, divide the number 72 by the expected rate of return. Example: 72 / 7% (expected rate of return) equals 10.3, which means your money will double in 10.3 years at this 7% rate of return. What does this mean to you? If at age 30 you have $25,000 in a brokerage or retirement account with a rate of return around 7%, in 10 years you will have $50,000.
It Is Never Too Late
Although there are a lot of things I wish my younger self had known about money, I am a firm believer that it’s never too late for anyone, of any age, to work toward the financial success they have always desired. When it comes to money, timing is not so much of an issue; it is awareness and the ability to make educated decisions when managing your money.
As a financial advisor, I provide trusted advice and exceptional personal service to those I partner with. I am passionate about what I do and always put my clients’ interest ahead of my own. If you want to start a conversation about how to build your wealth, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 916-276-8677 to see if I’m the right fit to help you pursue your ideal financial future.
James Callens is a financial advisor at GLH&C Financial Services, a full-service, comprehensive wealth management firm. Jim has over 30 years of experience in the financial industry and uses his extensive resources and knowledge to help his clients experience simplicity and clarity in their financial lives. Jim spent more than 20 years working for GE Financial Advisors, both in its insurance services department and as a regional manager and financial advisor. He took part in GE’s Six Sigma Quality Training program and completed the National Association of Life Underwriter’s four-year LUTCF course. Jim also earned his certificate in financial planning from the University of California at Davis. In 2011, Jim combined his own firm, Callens Financial Group, with GLH Financial Services, creating GLH&C Financial Services, so he could provide even more value to his clients.
He has served as a board member for several nonprofit organizations and has been involved in Cub Scouts leadership and youth sports coaching. Jim lives in Folsom, California, with his wife, Melissa, and his four children, Jacob, Kristen, Grant, and Andrew. Together, they enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, bicycling, and vacationing at Lake Tahoe. To learn more about Jim, connect with him on LinkedIn.