I Have My First “Real” Job—What Should I Do to Make Sure I’m On the Right Track to Meet My Financial Goals?

Landing that first big job out of college is a major accomplishment, and a huge landmark in a young person’s life—it’s the culmination of many years of hard work, and in many cases, lifelong dreams that have been fulfilled. 


In my work with young professionals, I see some common threads in planning concerns.  When someone is finally out on their own, has their own place, and their first high-paying job, I often am asked what they should be doing from a planning standpoint.  Following are a few thoughts and observations:

·        If you have student loans, design a plan to pay them down.  Work on the highest interest loans first if you can pay extra, and pay those off, then work on the next ones.  This also goes for any credit card debt you may have accumulated during college.  Craft  a monthly budget for paying off revolving debt and stick to it.

·        Resist the temptation for new, big purchases.  There is plenty of time to buy a nice car and have that fancy condo; immediately putting yourself in a financial bind can lead to years of financial stress.

·        Start building an emergency fund.  The goal is to have an emergency fund of six to twelve months of cash in the bank for emergency expenses.  This could be new tires, a refrigerator that goes out, or any number of things.  Remember, you’re out on your own now, and your new-found freedom brings a lot of expenses.

·        Take advantage of any match available in your employer’s retirement plan.  If your new employer has a retirement plan that matches your contributions, contribute at least what you need to in order to get the full match.  This is basically “free money” your employer is giving you for participating in the retirement plan, so you don’t want to leave it on the table.  In addition, if a Roth option is available, this may be a good choice…while you don’t receive a tax advantage on the contribution, your money grows tax-deferred, and you will not be taxed on the withdrawals.

·        Be aware of the insurance available to you through your employer, and eliminate the “disability gap”.  Most employers will have life and disability insurance available to you at little or no cost.  Most employer disability plans do not cover your entire income, and the benefit they pay is taxable.  This can create a serious shortfall in income should you become disabled.   For more information on this, see this link.

Of course, this article only touches on a few of the issues graduates are hit with as they begin their working lives.  It’s an exciting time, full of opportunity and new adventures.  With proper planning, this time can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of financial success.  If you would like to discuss planning for your future, feel free to contact me. 

Monte Miller (865) 776-5577     monte@crestpointwealth.com

Is 70 the New 60?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the investment business for nearly a quarter century at this point, and I’ve made an observation over the past few years about the changing demographics in our country.  These changes have had a profound impact on quality of life, when people retire, and in turn on the workforce.

When I was growing up, I distinctly remember people being bound to wheelchairs or using walkers because they had arthritis and could not walk.  Now, through artificial joints and physical therapy, it’s rare to see this situation any more.  How many of us have friends or relatives (or ourselves!) who have artificial knees or hips?  This is an astounding improvement in quality of life, in just the past twenty or so years.

Also, through innumerable improvements in medicine, life expectancy is well into the eighties now.  I have plenty of clients who are in their late seventies and early eighties and are totally involved in the management decisions on their accounts.

But here is the major shift I’ve seen over the last ten or so years: people are working longer.  They are doing this for the reasons I’ve already mentioned; they’re healthier, for the most part they seem happier, and so they feel like continuing to work for a longer time, particularly if they own the business.  This has had a ripple effect down the line through many industries, however.  I recently had lunch with a couple of attorneys who have been out of law school for about ten years.  When they got out of school, the market for new attorneys was relatively good.  Now, many of the older attorneys are still working.  They are the partners (owners) of the firm, so they can’t be fired or forced out, and they make the majority of the earnings.  This has resulted in newly minted attorneys being hired as clerks or attorneys at very low salaries.  This is happening in many industries. 

As an aside, there are a couple of lessons to be learned here.  One is that it is imperative for graduates to have some sort of advanced degree to earn a higher salary coming out of school, and even then it is sometimes difficult.  The flip side (and happy part of the story) is that many people who are happy with their work are able to keep chugging along.

One of my big takeaways in working with retirees over the years has been that people who retire and have some sort of project or small “job” they are dedicated to seem to be much happier and also much healthier than those who retire and “go home and sit on the couch”.  I’ve seen these activities range from church involvement, helping to raise grandchildren, managing real estate holdings, volunteering for various organizations throughout the week, and board memberships.  The point is, they all have something that keeps them going on a regular basis, gives them social interaction, and challenges them mentally. 

Life expectancy is much longer than it was even twenty-five years ago, and so as people approach retirement age, they face a much happier choice than in years past—if they are healthy and happy in what they do for a living, should they continue to work, or retire, and make sure that they have plenty of activities to keep them occupied and give them a sense of worth and value.

Do you feel it’s time to start planning for your retirement?  Schedule a no-obligation appointment to review your present plan, your investment allocation, and strategy for retirement income, as well as discuss how you plan to efficiently pass on your estate and receive the Survivor’s Notebook—a sixteen- page workbook that is designed to help your survivors identify your advisors, accounts, where key documents are located, and so forth.  Feel free to contact me if you feel I may be of assistance at (865)474-8115 or monte@crestpointwealth.com.