Financial questions that count, Part 1

Will I be financially ready to retire? What is the best way to save for my kids’ college? Should I take Social Security early? Is our home properly insured? When should I start looking at Medicare? Would my family be taken care if something happened to me tomorrow? What if I became disabled? Could we still maintain our lifestyle? Yikes!
Questions, questions, questions!  
When it comes to our financial lives there seems to be no end to the questions we need to ask and the decisions that have to be made. That’s just how it is. The good news is that there are resources to go to for help. The bad news is that some resources are more reliable than others and that there are no easy cookie-cutter answers. So what is a person to do?
One of the first things you should do is try to find someone with experience in the areas that you need help in, and that you can trust. Someone that is truly in your corner, an advocate that will work with you on your behalf. Not everyone who calls themselves a “financial advisor” works in that manner.
So start by doing some research and finding someone with the training, the experience, and the integrity that you are looking for. Your brother, or the guy at the water cooler at work, may think they know what they’re talking about, but do they really have the experience needed to help you make decisions that may affect the rest of your life?
So when it comes to our financial lives, what questions do you address first? Like most things, it’s usually best to start with the basics, the areas that could potentially make a difference in your day-to-day life.
For example; do you have an adequate emergency fund? If not, please start one. Life happens to all of us. The furnace goes out, the car breaks down, kids get sick, etc. Do you have resources set back in case one of the breadwinners gets laid off? These types of events can potentially be a part of anyone’s life. Being prepared for these “what-ifs” needs to be job one.
Another area of your basic financial health to think about is your credit rating. Do you know where you stand if you are looking to make a major purchase, apply for a new job, or perhaps rent an apartment? Each of these may be affected by the quality and integrity of your credit score.
So, have you checked your score lately? Do you understand what your credit score means and is the information included to calculate your score correct? Then, the next big consideration is, “Do I need to improve my score and how do I go about it?” Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, it’s something that you have to work at over time. But it can be done. You may want to contact the credit bureaus to see how you may best be able to improve your score.
One of the most important basic areas of our financial lives is protection. Are we adequately protected against the “what-ifs” in life? What-if one of the family breadwinners became disabled? Would you be able to maintain your current lifestyle? What if you lost a child or another loved one, would you have resources available to take care of the family if you were unable to go to back to work right away? What if your house burned down, are you adequately insured? Could you rebuild?  Are you properly insured against a catastrophic health condition or long period of illness?
What if you required someone to come into your home to care for a loved one? Are you prepared? Protection and insurance planning should be one of the foundation stones of everyone’s financial house. Because without proper protection, the rest of your financial house may be on pretty shaky ground. This also includes protecting your identity. In today’s day and age, protecting one’s identity has to be taken very seriously. This is an area where if we drop our guard only for a minute, there can be potentially catastrophic damage inflicted on our financial health and well-being.
Questions! We all have them, that’s to be expected. They key is, do you know where to go for help? In next month’s post we will move beyond the basic questions to explore the questions we all must consider as we plan for our financial futures, including retirement, and beyond.

Daniel S. Miller, Certified Financial Planner , President, Milestone Financial Group, Inc.
Daniel S. Miller is an investment adviser representative of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp. (Member FINRA/SIPC). USA Financial Securities is a registered investment adviser located at 6020 E Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Milestone Financial Group is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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