By Taylor Kovar
Hey Taylor: My husband and I are trying to figure out some savings goals for the future and don’t really know where to start. House, retirement, new car, rainy day fund, etc. Any guidance? – Marie
Hey Marie: Love this question! As one half of The Money Couple, helping married people figure out how to live their best financial lives is a big part of the work I do with my wife. While everyone has a different situation and different needs, there are some universal steps we can all take.
Emergency fund. If you don’t have a cushion of some sort, you have to start there. Save up enough to cover a few months of living expenses so you don’t take on a bunch of debt when something unexpected happens. People skip this step all the time and it almost always comes back to bite them. If you have a safety net in place, something like a layoff or a rough economic patch won’t blow up all your long-term goals.
Retirement. If you have a 401(k) through work, that’s fine but it’s not really enough. An IRA is another way to go! Once you get into the swing of putting money away for retirement, it won’t seem like a huge savings goal as much as a manageable monthly amount. It’s really important to start now and get in the habit of maxing out that IRA every year so your money can grow and you don’t have to worry about it when you get older and start thinking about your post-job life. Cars, houses, and vacations are all more alluring when you start saving for the first time, but those retirement funds should be a top priority.
House. You don’t have to buy a house. If renting makes sense for you and your current situation, and you’ve got your savings and are stashing away for retirement, that’s okay. At the same time, you might be able to save for a down payment and then pay a mortgage that’s not much more than your current rent. Perhaps more importantly, just opening up the discussion of saving for a house can answer a lot of questions about your future. Do you want to stay where you are? Do you want to keep renting and buy a vacation house that you can rent out? Do you want a home so you can start a family (which leads to a lot of other savings questions)? Even if you don’t buy a home, those questions are worth your consideration.
You might have to start with some smaller goals than you had hoped, but it’s all part of the process. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success, and the rest of the pieces will fall into place. Good luck!
Disclosure: Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. To submit a question to be answered in this column, please send it via email to Question@GoFarWithKovar.com, or via USPS to Taylor Kovar, 415 S 1st St, Suite 300, Lufkin, TX 75901.