Financial Checklist By Age

About 6 years ago, I got my finances in order BIG TIME! I was using cash out of envelopes and my budget accounted for every single dollar that came in and out. It was glorious! My husband was on board and we were on top of the world and saving money like crazy. We paid off ALL our debt with the exception of our home and even had a college fund going for our daughter.

Fast forward to today. We've added another child, moved 4 times!!!, changed jobs and therefore...income changed. We let a few thousand dollars creep back onto our credit cards and stopped contributing to the college funds in favor of having more cash in hand.

Just like weight, debt comes back when you don't stay on top of it. We tried on and off over the last 1 or 2 years to get back to the laser focus we once had but just couldn't stick to anything.

Then, of course, the world turned upside down. As I watched the stock market bounce up and down each day, I panicked.

What was happening to the little money I had invested? What should I do? Do I take out my money and cut my losses or let it ride and risk losing it all like so many people did in 2008.

The questions kept building up in my mind and Google only got me so far. My co-worker used Harwood Financial Group and told me about them. He was helping them with some advertising and suggested my station. It was all just the perfect timing for us to meet. I desperately needed help.

When we met up, I learned that anyone who schedules a complimentary meeting (virtual or in person) will leave with a written financial plan. I thought that was pretty generous considering something like that can cost upwards of $900 if it's being done by a professional.

I met with Mike and Gloria (they're fun and not condescending which was nice). I told them one thing people might want to know about is what kinds of financial goals we should all be thinking about according to our age. They put together a list for me to share and I really love it. It's not too overwhelming and totally doable! Happy planning!

By age 35

1. Have an emergency fund equal to at least 3 months of earnings.

2. Have a budget for both necessary as well as discretionary spending.

3. Figure out and prioritize your family's financial goals. Do you want to pay off the house or car? Do you want to buy a boat? Do you want a fully funded college plan for the kids?

4. Take as much risk as you can stomach! This is where it helps to have a planner to do it for you. ;)

5. Contribute to a Roth IRA! Most people don't mess with this because it seems complicated. It's not! Google it or call us!

By age 45

1. Push retirement savings up the priority list.

2. Purchase or update life insurance. Lots of people don't want to spend on something like this but it's a safety net for your family.

3. Cut/eliminate credit card debt – make credit rating a priority. By now you should be able to budget well enough without using those credit cards.

4. Take maximum advantage of employer sponsored matches. You're at the age to maximize any little extras you can get.

5. Have a will/estate plan. Imagine how you'd want things to look for your family if you passed away? Not having a will can really break a family apart.

By age 65

1. Have an income plan.

2. Decide best social security strategy

3. Own home free of mortgage

4. Have a plan for long term care

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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