Long term financial goals take time, resources, and careful planning in order to transform them from dreams into successes. Many of us share goals to save for college, buy a house, start a business, and enjoy our hard earned retirement. Here’s our guide to getting you on the right track with planning theses major financial goals.
Long Term Financial Goal 1: Education
College is expensive, to say the least. Tuition costs increase at approximately twice the inflation rate. The sooner you can start planning for your education (or your children’s education), the better.
Here are some tips to help you start saving money for college:
- Consider using long term saving and investing instruments such as Treasury Bonds or a 529 Plan. Good financial planning for college will help you avoid student loans.
- Student loans are easy to get, but not so easy to pay back. You do not want to have your career and financial goals stymied by mortgaging your future with large student loan payments.
- Many students would love to have the full “college experience” by attending the school of their choice. However, given today’s economy, a better economical choice may be two years at community college and two years at state school along with a part time job to help defray costs. Set your goals accordingly.
Long Term Financial Goal 2: Homeownership
The American Dream. It is still a good dream, but is it realistic for everyone? Certain factors such as income or having to make frequent moves for employment may point to renting as being a better option. If you do plan to buy a home, make your goal attainable. Buy a home that makes economic sense for you. Although most of us have to take out a mortgage to buy a home, you should still save money to reach this goal.
Being able to save enough for a 20% down payment will help you avoid the cost of mortgage insurance.
Even if you plan to use VA or FHA for a low down payment mortgage for your first home, you will still want to have a cash savings for start up costs; appliances, furniture, decorating, etc. If you have little credit or poor credit, and you plan to buy a home some day, start building or repairing that credit now.
All too often, I counsel couples who are on a fast track to marry, start a family and buy a home. They come to me wanting to know how they can quickly fix their credit so that they can get a mortgage. In those cases, I often have to be the one to tell them that their plans to buy a home may have to be a longer timeline than they had hoped due to their current credit situation.
Long Term Financial Goal 3: Business Ownership
Most of the people I meet that tell me they want to start a business typically have never taken that thought process beyond the “dream” state. If you are serious about owning a business, then start doing your homework. You need to have a solid understanding of business ownership including all financial and legal aspects.
Once you have done your research, if you still feel that owning a business is the right thing for you, you will need to put together a comprehensive Business Plan that will define all of your financial goals within a specific timeline. A business without a business plan is destined to be a failure.
Long Term Financial Goal 4: Retirement
Everybody needs a retirement plan. EVERYBODY.
No matter how old you are when you are reading this article, the time to start your retirement plan is now!
You need to create a plan that will allow you to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle when you are retired. Social Security has an uncertain future, pensions are something we can no longer rely on, and you cannot work forever.
I have counseled many people that thought they would simply keep working into their 60’s and 70’s, but poor health and/or a bad economy can force an abrupt change to that plan. Be sure you are putting away your money into a Qualified Retirement Plan or taking advantage of Defined Contribution Plans.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even financial professionals rely on our colleagues’ advice to help us reach our own financial goals. If you’re not sure where to start, our coaches are happy to help you begin to build your long term plans. Once you’ve formed your plan, you can seek the assistance of a Certified Financial Planner to help you calculate your retirement financial goals based on your timeline and adjustments for inflation.