I opened my first savings account at just 6 years old. It was such an exciting experience. My dad took me to the local bank to open the account, and they gave me a huge swag bag with a financial coloring book, crayons and more. I remember thinking, “How cool is this? Look at everything I just got for opening a bank account.” Every time I had money saved up, we would make it a fun outing to put it in the bank.
That might be a bit of an oversimplification of financial planning, but it illustrates the point that financial planning doesn’t have to be intimidating and you are never too young to start thinking about your fiscal future because time is the best multiplier for your money.
“Compound interest is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to wealth building. Starting to invest as soon as possible is one of the best things you can do to build your nest egg,” says certified financial planner Raymond S. Pavicich, CFP, CLU from Vision Financial Group and the Establishment by Mass Mutual, who provides education and guidance to those who are looking to get started with financial planning.
For example, let’s say you invest $100 today and never add more money to it. With an average rate of return of 7%, in 30 years, that will be worth more than $800! Obviously, other factors will affect investments, but for a simple formula to see how much your money can grow, put your own numbers into an investment calculator.
Maybe you didn’t open your first bank account as a child and haven’t started building any savings. You aren’t alone! Many Americans haven’t. Market Watch shares how much, on average, Americans have in savings in various age groups, as well as how you should change how you think about saving at different ages. But it is better to get started sooner, rather than later.
“If you haven’t started yet, the best day to do so is today. The average American spends more time planning their vacations than they do planning their financial future. If you expect to be better than average, it’s time to start taking action,” says Pavicich.
Let’s face it, financial planning can be intimidating. Let’s break it down.
“At the end of the day, financial planning is about identifying and maximizing efficiencies,” says Pavicich.
The first step in any financial plan should be to get an understanding of your current finances.
“Knowing exactly where all your dollars are being spent allows you to prioritize spending, saving and paying off debt in the most efficient manner,” says Pavicich.
Once you know where your money is going, you can create a budget.
“Creating a budget is a fantastic first step toward getting your finances in order. Budgeting is, at its most basic, a review of money-in, money-out of your household. It may sound mundane, but its importance to a financial plan is hard to overstate,” says Pavicich.
Then, start putting money away.
“Ensure you treat your savings as a bill; ‘pay yourself first’ is a tried-and-true adage. The principle there is that you need to build savings into your expenses, rather than trying to save whatever is left over,” says Pavicich.
Many financial experts recommend trying to save 20% of your monthly income: 15% toward retirement and 5% toward more short-term savings.
The easiest way to start saving is to make it automatic. Take advantage of your company’s 401(k)k or other retirement savings programs to have money taken directly out of your paycheck to save for retirement.
I like to divert my savings into a separate bank account at a different bank. That way, expenses get paid out of an account at one bank and savings are in another. That lowers the temptation to spend it than if it was more easily accessible.
“We offer financial education for all experience levels through an initiative called The Establishment that we created in 2015 to provide quality information to help make financial decisions related to everything from purchasing a home to planning for retirement,” says Pavicich “These seminar-style learning events are delivered virtually, in person with third-party vendors, or at places of employment.”