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Financial Literacy for Life   arrow

Debt imageBy: Glenda Wentworth, Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, Eagle County

Colorado public schools now require financial literacy be taught to each grade (age appropriate).  What about the rest of the population?  What are guidelines for our financial wellness?  Rutgers University recently laid out goals for financial success for each decade for us.  A healthy plan helps give markers to where we might be at each decade of our life.

0-10: Learn basic addition and subtraction. Start some entrepreneurial activity; sell something for money. If you receive an allowance – an important money-management step; save some, spend some, and share some.

10-20: Work at a job for money. Learn the basics of a paycheck and open a checking account. Once you’re working, start investing in a retirement account.  Learn about the magic of compound interest and saving early -often referred to as Einstein’s Eighth Wonder of the World! Research what you want to study and decisions for future education or college. Keep student loans to an absolute minimum.

20-30: Learn more about investing and budgeting. Continue to participate in 401(k) if your employer provides one or another investment option if not. Plan your repayment plan to pay off student loans during this decade. Keep your credit report clean by limiting debt and pay bills timely. Set up an emergency savings fund equal to three months expenses. Learn to track your money using a spreadsheet or app and do your own taxes at least once.

30-40: Invest in your retirement (guideline is one year’s salary saved in retirement account) and maintain adequate insurance for your family specific needs.  Switch your insurance policies to high-deductible plans. Build your investing expertise and diversify investments to include a variety of categories. Prepare written estate planning documents (at least advance directives and will).

40-50: Create an investment account separate from your emergency savings, retirement fund and college-savings vehicles. Put each on autopilot so money is deposited routinely from your checking account. Strive to meet the retirement holding guideline of three times your annual salary; save at least 15% of gross income. Talk with your aging parents to make sure you understand their finances and caregiving wants and needs.

50-60: Investigate long-term care insurance. Do calculations for anticipated retirement needs, income sources and how much you’ll need to save between now and then. A rough guideline: for every $1000 you expect to spend monthly, you will need $300,000 in your retirement account.  Pay off debts and perhaps your mortgage. Invest in your future self -what you will retire to (not from), i.e., who you will be and what you will do.

60-70: Evaluate your best plan for Social Security, initiate Medicare. Update estate plan as necessary. Evaluate investments. Enjoy senior discounts. Prepare yourself psychologically for the withdraw-and-spend phase of life. Divide your daily calendar into thirds; plan how you will fill each section weekly.

70-80: Check beneficiaries on savings, investment and insurance accounts. Talk to your children about your finances and make sure you’ve got clear records where resources are and what you want done with them. Use your money to live comfortably; don’t isolate or skimp on hearing aids, household help or handrails keep you active and secure. Hire help – it’s nice to have some chores taken care of.

80-90 and beyond: This is the time to enjoy what makes you happy. Simplify your life and home; hand off family heirlooms in a meaningful way.