I just had breakfast with someone who was bemoaning the fact that he has no 401K. One of his new year resolutions is to get started on retirement.
I just met with a financial planner; He admitted that he was frustrated with himself. A lot of the recommendations that he gave to clients was advice that he couldn’t always follow, because of life circumstances. Finances make it harder for him to put as much money aside as he thinks that he should.
Both of these men were saying what most all of us are saying. We know the road to take but it’s not always easy to get there. In my area of law, there usually is an event that has derailed any attempt at setting something aside right now. That adds to the frustration of a client who is trying to get medical treatment; trying to get better; trying not to miss too much work and still trying to make ends meet.
In a time of crisis, it’s almost a guarantee to look back at the past and say, “I wish I would have (insert a multitude of thoughts). ConsumerReports.org has some good reminders on finances that I thought were good blog fodder. They are called “Seven money stumbles to avoid”. In good times, it’s hard to follow these; In hard times, it’s even hard to read them. Still, it’s a good list to work on to keep from making some of these financial stumbles:
- Not updating wills and beneficiaries. Eighty-six percent hadn’t updated their wills or other estate-planning documents within the previous five years.
- Not sharing information with family. In only 30 percent of households did both spouses know major details about the family’s finances and where to find account information.
- Messing up on 401(k)s. About two-fifths of respondents set aside 6 percent or less of pretax income in defined-contribution retirement accounts, most likely missing out on free employer matches. Ninety-one percent never reviewed fund expenses within their plans, though those expenses play a major role in investors’ returns.
- Underinsuring. A mere 36 percent of homeowners had purchased extended coverage on their homeowners insurance that covered the full replacement value of personal property. Only 20 percent of survey respondents had umbrella coverage to protect them from liability lawsuits.
- Not planning for emergencies. More than 70 percent said they didn’t have an emergency fund that could cover three to six months of living expenses; 77 percent had not stored important financial information and contacts in a secure place.
- Not checking credit reports. Four out of five respondents don’t review their three credit reports at least once a year, though they’re free and indispensable.
- Mismanaging debt. Almost one-fifth of those surveyed had revolving debt on credit cards of at least $10,000. Of the almost one-quarter of respondents who were in debt for education loans, 47 percent had taken more costly private loans.
These really are reminders of preparation and paying attention. Insurance agents have even asked me to run some ads to remind people to buy more insurance. Usually when you need it, you really need it and that’s because the person that hits you either has no insurance or very little. If you carry more than minimum, at least your underinsurance coverage can help with your losses, and then your insurance company can even go after the defendant to pay them back.
For pic o’ day, my mom sent me this one, with some real investment advice!