As we make progress in moving past the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us were able to enjoy Fourth of July activities. However you observed the holiday, it’s important to recognize all the liberties we enjoy in this country. But you may still need to work at one particular type of freedom – and that’s financial freedom. How can you achieve it?
There’s no one instant solution. But you can work toward financial independence by addressing these areas:
• Retirement savings – Approximately 45% of Americans think the ideal retirement involves “enjoying my well-earned freedom," according to the March 2021 Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study. But when you’re retired, the risk to this freedom is obvious – the paychecks have stopped but the bills haven’t. Furthermore, you could spend two or three decades in retirement. That’s why it’s so important to contribute as much as you can afford to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, such as your IRA and your 401(k) or another employer-sponsored plan. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered. Whenever your salary goes up, try to increase the annual amount you put in your 401(k) or similar plan. And if appropriate, make sure you have a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented investments within your 401(k) and IRA. Most people don’t “max out” on their IRA and 401(k) each year, but, if you can consistently afford to do so, and you still have money you could invest, you may want to explore other retirement savings vehicles.
• Illness or injury – If you were to become seriously ill or sustain a significant injury and you couldn’t work for an extended period, the loss of income could jeopardize your ability to achieve financial independence. Your employer may offer disability insurance as an employee benefit, but this coverage is typically quite limited, both in duration and in the amount of income being replaced. Consequently, you may want to consider purchasing private disability insurance. Keep in mind that this coverage, also, will have an end date and it probably won’t replace all the income lost while you’re out of work, but it will likely be more expansive and generous than the plan provided by your employer.
• Long-term care – Individuals turning 65 have about a 70% chance of eventually needing some type of long-term care, such as a nursing home stay or the assistance of a home health aide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And these services are quite expensive – the average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $100,000, according to Genworth, an insurance company. Medicare typically covers only a small part of these expenses, so, to avoid depleting your savings and investments (and possibly subjecting your grown children to a financial burden), you may want to consider long-term care insurance or life insurance with a long-term care component. A financial advisor can help you choose a plan that’s appropriate for your needs.
By addressing these areas, you can go a long way toward attaining your financial independence. It will be a long-term pursuit, but the end goal is worth it.
[Arnetta Tolley, Financial Advisor Edward Jones Investments 626-744-2740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.]