It has been a busy week, and over the past several days I’ve had several reminders of how many different ways there are for consumers to get fleeced. As expected, I thought it would be a good idea to share some personal finance tips that will hopefully increase our readers financial acuity.
Personal Finance Tip #1: Approach Life Insurance with Caution
Just because you’re a living, breathing human being, doesn’t mean you need life insurance. Life insurance serves a very specific purpose: provides income to those who depend on you in the event of your death. Yes, that’s right. Life insurance is not an investment, but rather, an insurance policy on your life that is aimed at protecting your loved ones. That’s it.
If you’ve made it through the above paragraph and determined that you need life insurance, it’s time to start exploring term life insurance. According to U.S. News, “term life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that has a specified end date, like 20 years from the start date. The death benefit will only be paid out if the insured dies during this time period.” In short, you pay the insurance company to insure your life for a specific amount of money for a specific period of time. Simple contract. Don’t overthink this.
With that said, don’t buy whole, permanent, universal, indexed universal, or permanent indexed whole universal life insurance, EVER! Okay, I made that last one up (I think), but the others are terrible.
“Term life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that has a specified end date, like 20 years from the start date.”nerdwallet
Personal Finance Tip #2: Be aware of investing fees
It’s 2023, and there are more brokerage options than ever for retail investors. Along with these options comes fees! Fees come in all shapes and sizes, and are sometimes hidden so well you can’t find them.
The expense ratio of a specific fund is a fee that is charged just for holding that specific security, regardless of return. There may be an assets under management (AUM) fee that is charged as a percentage of the total assets being managed by a firm. You could also see things like quarterly or annual record keeping or administrative fees. Make sure you know the fees you are paying!
To avoid this, you should try to do business with a reputable low-fee broker such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, or E*Trade. By doing this, you can manage your own investments an typically avoid all fees other than the expense ratio, which are notably low at the 4 firms I just mentioned. If you’re curious about the impact of fees on your investments, checkout this calculator provided by the good people over at nerdwallet!
Personal Finance Tip #3: Save Money Early
If you’re one of those people that keep telling yourself you’ll start saving money next month, or next year, or in 5 years, you’re not doing it right! At some point, you need to grab the savings bull by the horns and start putting money away.
As an example, if you save $250 a month for 30 years, you’ll have around $493k at a 10% average return. If you do the same thing but for 15 years, you’ll only have $95k. My point – time makes investing easier and it’s something you can never get back – don’t waste it.
Personal Finance Tip #4: Don’t Get Discouraged
Like anything else in life, it’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go our way. Money is one of those areas that can continue to kick you when you’re down, but the key is to avoid letting it keep you down. Considering the life expectancy in the U.S. is now about 76 years old, this is a long journey and you’ll need to buckle up for some ups and downs.
Some small things can make the financial stress weigh a little bit less. This includes things like budgeting, creating a nice emergency fund and finding career success. Whatever you do, make sure you’re concentrating on these successes in times of doubt and discouragement. Keep your eye on the prize and stick to positive thoughts. If you can do this, I think you’ll come out just fine.