While it is important to live in the present, planning for your financial future is incredibly important. For many people, financial planning starts with creating a budget to ensure you can manage daily expenses with your current income. By creating a budget and sticking to it, you are better able to begin saving for emergencies, planning for big expenses such as a home or college tuition, and are on the path toward a secure retirement.
Understanding where you are today and creating a plan are essential steps toward achieving financial wellness. Start by documenting your mandatory living expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, groceries, and gas. Then start documenting your discretionary spending such as entertainment so you know where your money is going.
Step one in a secure financial future is managing your daily expenses to ensure they do not exceed your income. Next, establish emergency savings to protect against unexpected expenses or job losses. Some experts suggest having three to six months of expenses in savings(1), which may be a multiple year process to achieve. Step three is to focus on increasing savings for mid- and long-term goals while strengthening your day-to-day finances. For example, pay off your credit cards while putting some of your paycheck toward short-term savings and retirement.
As your monthly budget takes shape and you are able to save more, start to plan for your post working years; develop your retirement income strategy by taking advantage of 401(k) or 457 savings plans, such as the PERAPlus voluntary retirement savings plans. As a PERA member, you may contribute to a PERAPlus plan in addition to your defined benefit or defined contributions plans. If you’d like to learn more about creating a retirement savings plan, sign up for the free PERAPlus workshop-Developing a Savings Plan.
If you’re not in PERA’s defined benefit plan, you may want to consider converting some of your defined contribution retirement savings to lifetime income at retirement. A lifetime income annuity may help to ensure you don’t outlive your retirement savings. The World Economic Forum reports that Americans should expect to outlive the money they saved for retirement by about 10 years on average(2). Colorado PERAPlus 401(k), 457 and DC Plan participants have access to two guaranteed income annuity choices to help guard against outliving your savings.
- The balance. “Rule of Thumb: How big should your emergency fund be?”, https://www.thebalance.com/is-your-emergency-fund-too-big-4142617#:~:text=1%20Most%20experts%20recommend%20keeping%20three%20to%20six,be%20able%20to%20save%20less.%20More%20items...%20, March 12, 2022.
- World Economic Forum. “Retirees will outlive their savings by a decade.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/retirees-will-outlive-their-savings-by-a-decade/, June 2019.