Just like a real tree, money takes time to grow. It may also have to weather unforeseen financial storms – national recessions, a bout of unemployment or an expensive medical bill – so it will need time to recover from those setbacks.
So here’s a strategy you might consider:
Ideally, “now” is early enough in your life that you’ll have plenty of time for your money tree to grow long before you face the challenges of retirement. But if you’re at a later stage in life and haven’t started growing your money, it’s even more important that you start a plan immediately.
Make a plan
If you want to save money, all you have to do is set money aside in a savings account – or stash some cash between the couch cushions. But if you want to grow money, you’ll have to do a little more planning than that. Start by clarifying your financial goals. Are you trying to buy a house? Or are you more concerned about growing a nest egg for retirement? By narrowing your objectives, you can make smarter decisions on how to invest your money.
As part of your plan, be sure to evaluate all of your options for growing money. If your company offers a matching 401(k) plan and you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re essentially throwing part of your paycheck away.
Of course, the cornerstone to any financial plan is a monthly budget. Once you begin to track where your paycheck goes each month, you’ll have a better understanding of ways you can find money to grow. The most important financial move you can make? Learn to live within your means. Debt is like a poison that will prevent your money tree from growing – and may eventually kill it altogether.
As your life changes, so will your financial goals. When you’re young, saving for a house may be your biggest priority. But as you approach other milestones in your life – raising kids, paying for college tuition, changing career paths – you’ll need to reevaluate how you invest your money.
The older you get, the less you can afford to take aggressive risks with your nest egg. Be sure to check in with your financial advisors – and yourself – to make sure your budget and long term investing strategies are on track.
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