Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July (Independence Day) as a nation. It is a great time to remember the sacrifices Americans made to free themselves from British rule and set America on a course to become the greatest nation on earth.
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Today, July 5th, you have an opportunity to declare your own financial independence. Our Founders put in place strategies that would make our country great knowing that greatness would take time. Your financial independence will also take time, but if you follow these three strategies, your financial success is within reach:
- Max out your retirement savings. Most companies today offer employees an opportunity to participate in a retirement savings plan and many companies encourage participation with a matching contribution. A typical matching contribution might be 50% of your contribution up to 6% of pay. This should serve as the foundation of your financial independence plan.
- Automate your success. How quickly do you want to reach financial independence and what sacrifices are you willing to make? 10% of gross income in savings is the minimum required to be on track for reaching financial independence. If you are starting in your thirties, that minimum rises to 15%, and will increase to 20% in your forties. For contributions outside of your company retirement plan, set up auto-withdrawals from your checking account to your investment account. This is an easy way to stay the course without making a decision each month and automating your success.
- Focus on equities. The investment world is broadly divided into equities (stocks, real estate, business investments) and fixed income (money market accounts, CDs, and bonds). The path to financial freedom is paved with equities. Stocks, stock mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are the easiest choice for most people. While there is a place for fixed-income investments, the bulk of your financial independence plan should include equities.
If you need help, seek the assistance of a professional financial advisor who is a Certified Financial Planner professional with a minimum of 10 years of experience. By implementing these three strategies, you can help mark your own Declaration of (Financial) Independence Day: July 5th, 2022!
Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including 50 Rules of Success; J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch Group. Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.
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