Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: What’s your recipe for financial success?

Mechel Glass
by Mechel Glass, Dimespring Contributor  (@CredAbility)

As part of my quest for a healthy lifestyle, I share recipes with a group of friends on Facebook. I’ve given out the recipes for some of my favorite foods, including my favorite breakfast: low-fat Greek yogurt with strawberries and blueberries, topped with granola and pumpkin seeds.

The group has given me a lot of good ideas, too, and I balance my selections based on taste and the number of calories in each recipe.

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My online friends spend a lot of time figuring out how to eat healthy. But are they spending just as much time determining how to build a strong financial portfolio?

I hope that they are applying many of the ideas and some of their imagination on building a healthy financial life, too, making sure that their budgets, short- and long-term investments have a good mix of stability and growth.

This is the recipe for building wealth over time.

If you need a recipe for financial success, I’ll share mine with you:

Short-Term Savings: Protect your family and investments by making certain that you have at least six months of savings, in a money market or traditional savings account, to carry you through a job loss or other emergency. Once this goal is accomplished, set your sights on saving for other goals, such as a home or your child’s college education.

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Start to build an emergency fund by setting aside a small percentage of your earnings and gradually increasing that amount over time. And buy insurance to provide you with an overall safety net that will guard against large scale disasters that short-term savings will not cover.

Long-Term Investments: Take advantage of employer-sponsored savings plans. Most employers will match your contributions into a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement savings plan, which means that they are giving you money. Work closely with any advisor provided by your employer to diversify your contributions to this plan to include a balanced mix of investment vehicles such as mutual funds, bonds or individual stocks.

Build Assets Through Real Estate: Buying a home should be a part of your financial portfolio. As part of your long-term financial plan, invest in a home where you can raise your family. Even if the local economy where you live is growing slowly, the home will eventually grow in value. If you can pay off the home in 15 or 20 years, you will likely have an asset value at six figures before you are set to retire.

READ: How to increase your home's value

Long-Term Savings: Once you begin saving for your child’s college education and your retirement, your long-term savings should have a mix of certificates of deposit, bonds and Treasury bills. This combination of investments will provide you a balance of safety and growth overtime.

The Total Picture: Your recipe for financial success will include a mix of cash and short-term investments needed to carry you through an emergency, along with stable, long-term assets, such as a house and investments that include stocks and bonds. If you can strive to build this recipe, you will lead a financially healthy life.

 

Mechel Glass is vice president of community outreach for CredAbility. She is responsible for coordinating community outreach and financial education activities across the agency’s regions and developing new education programs for both classroom settings and online. Glass, a U.S. Army veteran, is also co-author of “The Veteran’s Money Book,” scheduled for publication in April 2014 by Career Press. The book can now be ordered on Amazon.com.