Critical To Balance Goals, Needs Early In Career

BERLIN — While everyone’s needs are unique, specific topics typically resonate with individuals at specific stages in their lives and careers. Your financial success can depend heavily on planning and making informed decisions about your money during each of these life stages.

Last week we began our summary of some typical challenges and suggested action steps for each life stage. This week, we continue with the concept of “Balancing Goals and Needs.”

The "Balancing Goals and Needs" life stage typically occurs in your 40s.

This stage can be complicated. You may feel like you are being pulled in many directions at once, as you try to balance the demands of running your home, saving for future education costs, possibly assisting elderly parents—and meeting your own needs, while you’re at it. Consider these action steps:

1. If you need help, get it. If do-it-yourself planning isn’t working for you, consider working with a professional financial advisor. A professional can offer objective, expert knowledge and can suggest more effective financial decisions.

2. Continue your 401(k) contributions. If your plan offers an employer match, consider contributing at least enough to maximize the match, and consider contributing more if you can.

3. Review all available employer-sponsored benefits. These may include stock-related plans, health care options, life and disability insurance, and so on. If you’re married, could your spouse’s plans provide some of these coverages at a lower cost? Understand how each plan works.

4. Review your emergency fund: If you have saved at least three to six months of your current living expenses, perhaps you can redirect future savings deposits to help you reach other goals such as paying for educational expenses. It’s important, though, to replenish your emergency fund if you use it.

(A Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor. She can be reached at 410-213-8520.)