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Financial Tips for Different Generations
Do you remember The Game of Life®? In Milton Bradley's popular board game, players progress through life stages making decisions that affect their prosperity. Like those players, today's generations face financial decisions with lasting effects. Here are some tips for staying focused despite life's ups and downs.
Generation Z (teens to early 20s):
Accustomed to instant gratification, the "Digital Generation" may need to recognize that financial success takes diligence and patience. Consider sharing the following advice with the Gen Zers in your life:
- Live within your means. Your first paycheck provides the chance to learn valuable lessons, such as creating a budget and spending less than you earn.
- Build a saving habit. You have one powerful advantage over other generations--time. Why not make saving automatic and direct a part of your paycheck into a savings or investment account?
- Understand credit and credit reports. A good credit history helps you get a car loan and a mortgage, but a bad one can ruin your borrowing chances for years. Reviewing your credit report regularly can help you manage your finances and protect your identity.
Generation Y (20s and early 30s):
In this group, you could be juggling your first "real" job, college loans, marriage, a first home, and young children. Three points for you:
- Risk management isn't just for companies. Save 6 to 12 months' worth of living expenses in a savings account for unexpected emergencies. Review your insurance, and at a minimum, have health and property coverage. Also consider disability insurance, which helps pay the bills during a health crisis.
- Start saving for retirement ... Like Generation Z, time is your strongest ally. Participate in a retirement savings plan at work, if offered, and if your employer offers a match (free money!), contribute enough to get all of it. If you don't have a plan at work, open an individual retirement account (IRA) and invest what you can (up to annual limits).
- ... And your children's college. In 18 years, a four-year degree could cost as much as several hundred thousand dollars. Give your children a head start by saving now.
Generation X (30s and 40s):
- Home ownership, older children, a career in full swing--if you're in this group, your finances may take a back seat to life's daily demands. To help stay focused, consider the following:
- Retirement savings trump college savings. Don't risk your future to pay for your children's entire education. There's no financial aid office in retirement.
- Don't neglect your health. Are you experiencing new aches and pains? At this age, medical issues can begin to surface, demanding time, energy, and financial resources. Take care of yourself, and before an emergency arises, review your health and disability coverage.
- Create a will, if you don't already have one. This important document can help ensure your children are cared for and your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Medical directives should also be established now.
Baby Boomers (50s and 60s):
If you're in this age group, you may have both adult children and elderly parents who need assistance, as well as an impending or current retirement. Pointers for you include:
- Shift your retirement savings into high gear. People over 50 benefit from higher savings limits on 401(k)s and IRAs. Strive for the maximum.
- Visit a financial professional. When should you tap Social Security and your retirement savings? How should you invest your assets to potentially provide a lifetime of income? A financial professional can be a critical coach at this time of your life.
- Investigate long-term care insurance. These policies help protect your family's assets from the potentially devastating effects of long-term care. The older you get, the more expensive these policies can be.
The Game of Life ends when players reach retirement, but not so in real life--you still have years ahead of you. Consider the following:
- Review the basics. Whether you plan to travel to exotic locales or play board games with your grandchildren, a key to happiness is living within your means. Develop a realistic budget and don't exceed your spending limits.
- Manage your income stream. A financial professional can help you choose vehicles and determine an investment strategy to help ensure you don't outlive your assets.
- Plan for your family's well-being. A properly crafted estate plan can help you ensure that your wishes are carried out--for both your and your family's peace of mind.
How to Plan a Last-Minute Vacation
Everyone's had their vacation planned for months ... everyone but you, that is. Fortunately, you can still have your adventure in paradise, if you're willing to put in just a little time and effort.
Take the road less traveled
The first step in planning a last-minute getaway is finding a great spot to vacation. When time is short, flexibility is key. Here are some tips.
- Consider "off-peak" destinations. For example, summer may be a good time to visit major U.S. cities that typically host conventions during the fall, or a resort town that is popular with tourists during the winter. Hotels want to fill empty rooms and may offer extra perks, lower rates, or package deals. During the off-season, it may also be easier to get a restaurant reservation and avoid long lines at attractions.
- If you're flying, search for flights at more than one airport. If you're willing to depart from any airport near you or arrive at any airport relatively close to your destination, you'll have more options and a better chance of snagging a lower-cost flight. Also consider flying during off-peak hours or taking nondirect flights.
- Check hotel websites. Many list their rate calendars on their reservations page so you can see for yourself when rooms are available (and at what price). Even top hotels occasionally have empty rooms in-season for a night or two or have last minute cancellations--it doesn't hurt to call.
- Shop around. There's a lot more available than you think, and last-minute deals on airfares, rental cars, cruises, and hotel rooms exist. Once you've decided where to go, experiment with different travel dates (if you have some flexibility) to find the best deals.
Ask the experts
Getting advice is invaluable, and who better to ask than people who have been where you're going?
- Visit travel websites and forums where you can view ratings for attractions, hotel and restaurant reviews, and even suggested itineraries posted by local residents and tourists. You can also purchase or download travel guides.
- Consider working with a travel agent who has access to last-minute package deals or special airfares, and in-depth knowledge of vacation spots.
- Once you arrive at your destination, ask questions. Most major vacation destinations have a visitor's bureau staffed with knowledgeable people just waiting to give you free advice, maps, and even help finding accommodations (sometimes at special discounts). Front-desk staff or hotel concierges are also able to recommend restaurants and sight-seeing options.
Sweat the small stuff
Saving time is a top priority when planning a last-minute vacation--here are a few suggestions that can help you get on the road quickly.
- Make a packing list, and pack most of your items ahead of time. Make sure you have address tags on your luggage before you get to the airport.
- Pick a spot to keep essential (but easy to forget) items such as your wallet or purse, keys, airline tickets, passports, cell phone (and charger), and prescription drugs so that they will be in one place in case you're in a hurry the day you depart.
- If you're flying, confirm your reservations, and if possible, select your seats and complete the check-in process from home. If you're driving to the airport, make sure your gas tank is full so you won't need to stop on the way.
Enjoy the ride
Remember, a vacation is about relaxation--not perfection. The little planning you've had time for will help smooth the way, but inevitably there will be bumps in the road. Take them in stride, and you'll be well on your way to an enjoyable last-minute vacation.
The material presented here is not intended to constitute professional advice. You should consult a professional advisor before making decisions or taking actions significant to you and your situation. All content within this website is provided for information purposes only and should not be taken as legal or tax advice.
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