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When Financial Goals Collide

 

Managing multiple goals is a major challenge for most investors.  Saving for your kids’ college can derail you from your own retirement plans or your ability to help care for an aging parent.

To get what you want most, first decide which goals will take priority and work toward the lesser goals only after you have provided for the really important ones.  Depending on your stage of life, there are many things you can do to manage multiple goals.

20s – 30s:  Time Is On Your Side

Twenty- and 30-year-olds are typically concerned with the balancing act of paying off debt from school loans and investing in their future.  Whether you are paying for a wedding, saving for a down payment on a first home, planning a family or starting a retirement fund, the good news is that time is on your side.  Do not underestimate the power of compounding – even a small amount of money can earn interest, and each year that interest is applied to a growing sum of money. 

For example, let’s say you start saving for retirement at age 20.  For the next 10 years you put $2,000 a year in an IRA, earning 8% annually, and then you stop.  Your savings will be $428,000 at age 65.  If you don’t start saving until age 30, however, and put $2,000 away per year for the next 35 years, earning 8% annually you would only have $345,000 at age 65. 

Clearly, the best thing you can do in your 20s and 30s is to get rid of your debt as quickly as possible and start saving early.   

40s – 50s:  The Sandwich Generation

The “sandwich generation” is that group of baby boomers struggling to simultaneously pay for their children’s education, support their aging parents and save for their own retirement.  Here are some tips for balancing those goals: 

  • Determine your short- and long-term financial objectives.

  • Develop a realistic plan for accomplishing your goals.

  • Explore different investment products or vehicles for different goals, considering your timeframe and cash flow requirements.

  • Put your plan on autopilot by using utilizing direct deposit and automatic withdrawals to minimize your risk of derailment.

  • Update your financial goals regularly.

Get Help

No matter what stage of life you’re in, a qualified financial advisor can offer advice on balancing multiple objectives and help chart the path to meeting your goals.

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American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

Young Investors: Time Is on Your Side, so

Get Started Now

Many young investors not only lack faith in the future of Social Security, but they are also witnessing the disappearing model of being employed by the same company for 20 years or more and benefiting from long-term traditional pension plans. More than ever, instituting a financial plan as early as possible is crucial to long-term financial security.   Here are some simple steps to help you get started:

Saving for Long-Term Goals

  • Don’t be afraid of the down market past performance is not guarantee of future results.  When you are in your 20s, 30s and 40s and have time to let your investments mature, the stock market can offer significant long-term benefits.  With good planning and patience to wait out the rough times, the market will cycle back in your favor.

  • Set goals.  Before you can decide what types of investments are appropriate from a risk perspective, you need to evaluate your savings goals. Is your goal to preserve principal, generate income for current expenses or build the value of your principal over and above inflation?

  • Examine your time horizon.  Focus on time in the market with a buy-and-hold strategy, not market timing, which is the practice of moving in and out of the market in an attempt to boost returns. The longer your time horizon, the more volatility you can tolerate.

  • Diversify investments.  Spreading your money among several different investments and investment classes helps reduce market risk in a portfolio. Mutual funds can be a good way to diversify because they invest in many different securities. Also consider the potential benefits of selecting investments from more than one asset class.

  • Take full advantage of 401(k)s and benefits.  Any earnings on your contributions grow tax-deferred and are not subject to taxation until they are withdrawn from the plan.  If you get corporate-matched dollars, take full advantage of this “free” money.

Saving for Short-Term Goals and Emergency Reserves

You need a separate savings vehicle for short-term goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house or a new car.  In addition, you should have six months, of emergency reserves in case of a layoff or costly unplanned expense. Consider investing in CDs or interest-earning money market accounts that are liquid and immediately accessible.

Get Help

A financial advisor can help you with a comprehensive financial plan to meet your long- and short-term goals.

Tucker Watkins is a senior financial advisor specializing in comprehensive financial planning

including retirement, estate planning, risk protection, small business and asset allocation. Tucker

is a certified financial planner (CFP) and certified fund specialist (CFS) with American Express

Financial Advisors, Inc., Member NASD/SIPC located in Irvine, CA.  For more information

please call 1-800-55Retire if you are in California, or dial (949) 263-9001 x15, or go to

www.tuckerwatkins.com.

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American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

Ten Financial Tips for Women

 

On average, women earn 80.7 cents for every dollar men earn in the workplace.  Because women typically spend approximately seven years out of the work force to have and raise children, their earnings are even further curtailed.  With lower pay and less time spent in the work force, women are generally left with smaller retirement portfolios, lower company pension benefits and lower Social Security benefits than men.

Despite the fact that women earn less money than men, they generally need a larger retirement nest egg. On average, women live seven years longer than men and must finance more years in retirement.  And although a woman may share her husband’s savings, those assets may be depleted quickly if he becomes ill and dies first, which considering life expectancy, is often the case.

In addition, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the average age of widowhood is currently at 56 years. Therefore, most women are solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives.   What can women do to overcome these financial challenges? Here are 10 tips:

  1. Take control.  Despite the stereotypes, studies show that most married women actively participate or take the leading role in managing family finances.  Moreover, women outnumber men in participation in investment clubs across America.  However, some married women still leave the financial decision making to their spouse and may wind up ill equipped to handle their finances if they divorce or outlive their husbands.

  2. Invest more. To make up for discrepancies in retirement benefits, women should consider investing more than their male counterparts.  For example, a woman who takes seven years off from a 40-year career can expect to receive only half the pension benefits of someone with 40 years of uninterrupted services. The good news is that the U.S. Department of Labor reports that in an economy where the earnings of almost all other groups have remained the same or decreased, earnings of women have increased.  Higher earnings for women should mean the potential for more investments.

  3. Know your risk tolerance.  Consider how much risk you are willing to take in exchange for the potential to earn higher returns.  Historically, equity investments have provided higher returns over the long term than less-risky investments, such as money markets and short-term bonds, although past performance is no guarantee of future results.

  4. Participate in employer plans.  Collect information about the retirement benefits that are available through your employer and actively participate in any plans offered, taking advantage of all possible company matches and tax-deferred contributions.

  5. Do not depend on pensions or Social Security.  Fewer years in the work force, fewer years with a single employer and lower pay all may contribute to a lower average pension for female retirees.  Women also tend to receive lower Social Security benefits than men.  Benefits are calculated based on a person’s highest 35 years of earnings. If the benefits recipient doesn’t have 35 years in the work force, the Social Security Administration will add zero-earnings years to the record to equal 35 years. This will lower the average monthly earnings figure and may significantly lower your benefits.

  6. Get out of debt.  Debt is a serious issue for men and women.  However, credit counselors report, that women are more likely than men to take the first step toward becoming more disciplined and reducing their debt.  First, understand your spending and reduce spending so you don’t continue to add to your debt.  Then attack your existing debt by paying off high-rate debt first and if possible transferring high-rate debt to lower rate credit cards.

  7. Do tax planning.  With more female business owners and more single women buying homes and qualifying for mortgage interest and property tax deductions, tax planning is becoming an integral part of women’s financial lives. If possible, always contribute the maximum amount to your IRA and/or 401(k) and maximize your tax deductions.

  8. Keep retirement top of mind.  Although women have made many impressive strides toward financial independence, they report having only half as much for retirement as men ($40,000 in annual retirement income for women vs. $80,000 for men). Generally, because women live longer than men, they should save 12% of their gross income for retirement, rather than just 10%.

  9. Use resources.  There is a wealth of helpful information easily accessible on the Web, including sites such as www.womensinvest.about.com, www.ivillage.com/money, www.wife.org, www.advancingwomen.com, www.momsbudget.com, www.womens-finance.com, www.womensleadershipexchange.com and www.americanexpress.com/financial.

  10. Seek help.  Meet with a qualified financial advisor to create a financial plan specifically designed to help manage your personal economy.

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This information is provided for informational purposes only. The information is intended to be generic in nature and should not be applied or relied upon in any particular situation without the advice of your tax, legal and/or your financial advisor. The views expressed may not be suitable for every situation.

 

American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.