Don’t Make Resolutions—Take Action!

A new year is a clean slate. Take advantage of the new beginning by taking steps that will help build you a better future.

Many people will tell you they don’t have time to plan. I say you don’t have time not to. The bottom line is: Life happens. We have a tendency to focus too much on tomorrow and not enough on today.

Many Americans have taken steps towards saving for retirement. And while that’s important, it shouldn’t be at the expense of overlooking the risks we live with every day. What would happen to your retirement plans if you became disabled for a long period of time? What if an important income earner in your family passed away unexpectedly?

The loss of income from either of these situations could have a major impact on your retirement savings and may leave your family in a financial hole they may not recover from. My mom always told me “Prepare for the worst, but expect the best.”

So what are you going to do about it?

Here are some quick steps you can put into play today to help you make a difference in your family’s financial future:

1. Get protected.

Stop sitting on the fence. There is no good time, so just do it now.

Find out what your disability insurance plan is at work, if any, and how supplemental disability insurance can further help in the event you were to become disabled and unable to work.

Purchase life insurance to protect your family. There are many affordable options, including term life insurance. But don’t count yourself out of protecting your family on the basis of what you think can afford alone. Do your homework and talk to a trusted financial professional who can help offer solutions.

If you do buy insurance, be a prudent consumer and ask about policy protection add-ons known as riders. Riders can give you additional benefits and increase peace of mind that if something goes wrong, there’s another option that will help you maximize your insurance protection. For example, a “waiver of premium” rider means the company pays the life insurance premium should you ever become totally disabled. Some riders are free, but many are available at an additional cost.

2. Pay down your debt.

Create a debt reduction strategy for any high-interest-rate credit card debt. And STOP charging. One of the biggest budgeting mistakes people make is not having their debt paid off at retirement. Start now and stick with it.

3. Start saving.

Successful savers use the concept of paying themselves first whenever they receive a paycheck. Check with your employer to see if part of your pay can be automatically deposited into one or more savings accounts and let it build.

The sooner you learn to pay yourself, the better off you’ll be in the long term. By starting early, the power of compounding becomes a formidable ally in wealth growth, and it also paves the way to building that three to six months of salary contingency plan advisors recommend in the event you lose your job.

What are you waiting for?

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