When was the last time you...

Crushed a final debt payment, rocked a savings goal you thought was impossible, or hammered out a financial strategy that ‘future you’ would be proud of? You've seen your 'before.' Now it's time to see what your 'after' could look like. 

Let the tips below – based on the 6 Steps to Financial Independence – be your guide. 

Financial knowledge awaits...

1.
Debt Management
A major obstacle to a sound financial future is consumer debt. That’s why it’s important to have a strategy that helps reduce and eliminate it.

Give up a small luxury

Try it at least once a month and put the money you would have spent toward your credit card debt. This small sacrifice can make a big difference in the long run.

For example:

Suppose you owe $1,500 on a credit card and the interest rate you’re charged is 18 percent.

If you make a minimum payment of $37 per month, you would pay off your debt in 63 months. But if you pay $47, you’ll pay it off in 44 months and save $272 in interest.

Source: Credit Card Debt Calculator, Bankrate.com

United States: World Financial Group, Inc. (WFG) is a financial services marketing company whose affiliates offer a broad array of financial products and services. Headquarters: 11315 Johns Creek Parkway, Johns Creek, GA 30097-1517. Phone: 770.453.9300. worldfinancialgroup.com. Insurance products offered through World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc., World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Hawaii, Inc., World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Massachusetts, Inc., World Financial Insurance Agency, Inc. and/or WFG Insurance Agency of Puerto Rico, Inc. - collectively WFGIA. California License #0679300

Canada: World Financial Group Canada Inc. is a financial services marketing company whose affiliates offer a broad array of financial products and services. World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Canada Inc. (WFGIAC) offers life insurance and segregated funds. World Financial Group Canada Inc. and WFGIAC are affiliated companies. Headquarters: 5000 Yonge Street, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M2N 7E9. Phone: 416.225.2121

The Rule of 72 shows how interest can work for you...Or against you

This concept can show how your money can double in savings. It can also demonstrate the approximate amount of time it takes for your debt to double at a constant rate of return compounded over time.

This simple example shows how it works:

Mary owes $10,000 on a loan, and the interest rate she’s charged is 12% per year compounded annually. If she doesn’t make any payments, at this interest rate it would take six years for the amount she owes to double.

The Rule of 72: 

72 ÷ 12 =  6

Rule of thumb: Pay down debt quickly. And, make sure extra payments are applied to the principal.

The Rule of 72 is a mathematical concept that approximates the number of years it will take to double the principal at a constant rate of return compounded over time. All figures are for illustrative purposes only, and do not reflect the risks, expenses or charges associated with an actual investment. The rate of return of investments fluctuates over time and, as a result, the actual time it will take an investment to double in value cannot be predicted with any certainty. Results are rounded for illustrative purposes. Actual results in each case are slightly higher or lower.

Want to pay down debt more quickly?

Then debt roll-up, also known as the snowball method, may be the strategy for you.

Getting started is easy – Simply:

  • Commit to stop borrowing
  • List all your debts in order of amount, from those with the lowest to the highest balance, or by interest rate, from highest to lowest
  • Pay more than the minimum payment each month on Debt 1, while paying the minimum payment on the other debts
  • Once you've paid Debt 1’s balance, add the amount you were making on each Debt 1 payment to each of Debt 2’s minimum monthly payments, while continuing to make the minimum payments on your additional debts
  • Repeat the process until all your debts have been paid

You’ll get on a roll and pay off your debts faster. After one is fully paid off, you’ll have the momentum and cash flow to tackle the rest. If you focus on paying off balances with the highest interest, you will pay off your debts with a lower total amount of interest paid.

Would you like to discuss this concept with a financial services professional? Reach out to your licensed WFG associate today.

When Basic Debt Management Strategies Are Not Enough, Consider Debt Consolidation

Paying more than the minimum payment and using a debt-rollup strategy can help eliminate debt. But sometimes you need to make a power move: debt consolidation.

What Is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation is a form of debt refinancing in which you take out one loan to pay off many other loans, especially high-interest consumer debt.

Debt consolidation can make managing your debts easier because it eliminates the number of creditors to pay each month. It also enables you to obtain an overall lower interest rate on your debt, so you can start working on other financial goals sooner.

Here are two ways people consolidate their debts:

1. Enter a debt consolidation program: Many nonprofit companies provide this service. They reach out to your creditors and arrange for you to make one payment to the debt consolidation organization, which is then used to pay your creditors. As part of their service, you get credit counseling that can help you manage your finances.

2. Debt consolidation loans: If you have a decent credit score and/or collateral such as a home, you may be able to get a debt consolidation loan. Your lender will either use the funds you’ve borrowed to pay your debts to each creditor, or deposit the funds into your bank account, so that you can then pay off the debts with the loan proceeds.  

Are you ready to take a big step in reducing debt?
Consider all your options, including debt consolidation.

2.
Emergency fund
Make sure you have the financial flexibility to tackle unexpected expenses.

When facing an unexpected financial challenge...

Don’t let your back up be credit cards or payday loans. Build your cash reserves today.

HEre's a simple way to start your emergency fund, or add to the one you already have:

Choose a different amount to save each week depending on your cash flow. In 52 weeks – or 1 year – you will have saved $1,000. Here's what your amount/week could look like:

$3
$19
$9
$22
$28
$19
$35
$28
$6
$15
$17
$20
$18
$22
$8
$20
$4
$19
$26
$15
$29
$11
$17
$5
$9
$19
$21
$60
$22
$18
$31
$5
$27
$23
$0
$15
$21
$8
$12
$40
$34
$11
$6
$25
$19
$7
$20
$33
$51
$22
$17
$9

Be sure to keep this money in a savings account or anywhere else you can access it easily.

Once you reach $1,000, keep going. With three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund, you should be able to handle a car repair, medical expense or sudden job loss.

Design an Emergency Fund That’s Right For You

Financial experts believe people should have at least three to six months in savings to cover expenses just in case of an emergency. Since everyone’s situation is different, it’s important to look at your own particular circumstances to decide how much you need.

Here are some questions to help you determine the target dollar amount for your emergency fund:

How much do I need to cover essential expenses?

Tally up the things you cannot do without or must always pay for to maintain your financial foundation:

  • Housing: Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utilities
  • Debt
  • Food
  • Insurance: health, auto, home, life
  • Personal care expenses
  • Ongoing medical expenses, such as prescription medicine
  • Transportation

Do I need to save more? If you have a fluctuating income or if it typically takes you a long time to find a job, consider having more than three to six months’ worth of emergency expenses. Additionally, during a recession, find ways to add to your emergency fund to give yourself extra security. However, try not to go overboard by putting excessive cash toward emergency savings, because that money could be put to work on your other financial goals.

Do You Need More Help to Build Your Emergency Fund?

Here a few useful resources:

United States – The Congressionally chartered Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission offers tips to help you jumpstart your savings.

Canada – The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offers a calculator that can help you build an emergency fund.

It’s helpful to consult a financial services professional as you develop your emergency fund strategy. Reach out to a licensed WFG associate today.

How to Maintain Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund should be properly cared for and maintained at all times, because it can be the lifeline you need during a financial challenge. Here are some tips to help your Emergency Fund thrive.

Grow It: Decide how much you need to save, based on your expenses, then start growing it systematically. A lot of people use automatic deposits into their bank account, which can be scheduled to stop after a certain number of deposits. No matter where you decide to grow it – a savings account or under your mattress -- make sure it’s easy to access and won’t decline in value.

Prune It: Check your emergency savings periodically to make sure you’re not putting aside too much. Any excess cash may be put to better use in a short-term savings fund for financial goals you’d like to reach within two or three years.

Replenish It: Every time you withdraw money from your emergency fund, make it a priority to replace it as soon as you can.

A financial professional can help you with emergency fund strategies tailored to your situation. Contact a licensed WFG associate today.

3.
Cash Flow
Extra cash can make a difference in wiping out debt or changing your lifestyle for the better. Consider getting a gig or launching a business.

Do Heroes Have budgets?

You better believe it! Many people have gone from zero to hero with their finances simply by creating a budget and sticking to it. If you’re having money challenges, it’s time you take note of the power of a budget.

A budget can help you:

  • Understand your financial situation
  • Cut back on expenses and kick unhealthy financial habits
  • Control your spending
  • Build financial fitness

Make a budget part of your financial strategy. This worksheet can help you get started.

What’s the gig economy?

It’s the growing online, on-demand economy for services such as ride sharing, accommodation sharing, dog walking, baby-sitting and more.

Nearly 20% of U.S. adults have participated in this economy, and it’s estimated that by 2020 some 45 percent of Canada’s workforce will consist of freelancers, contractors and on-demand workers.*  Want to know more?

Here are just a few gig Examples To COnsider:

  • Start a part-time business in the financial services industry teaching people about how money works
  • Turn your passion into profit by selling the things you make as a hobby
  • Leverage your professional expertise by taking freelance/consulting projects or tutoring
  • Engage in the gig economy by walking dogs, babysitting or driving for a ridesharing company
  • Rent out a spare room, your car, your clothes or other resources you have

Here are a few reasons people join the gig economy:

    • To have an additional income stream
    • To be their own boss

    If the gig economy is for you, get online and find a good place to market your services. Possible search terms: gigging platform, ride sharing, accommodation sharing or freelancing.

    * Sources: More People Work in the Gig Economy Than You Might Think – And Many Want to Own Homes, Perspectives, Fannie Mae, Dec. 5, 2017; How to Succeed As a Millennial in the Gig Economy, Forbes, April 13, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2017/04/13/how-to-succeed-as-a-millennial-in-the-gig-economy/#6272b2ee1870.

    Serve a Growing Need

    The need for financial services professionals is growing as more baby-boomer advisors retire each year.* If this trend continues and no one replaces them, there will be fewer financial services professionals to provide guidance and services to middle-income families.

    There’s an Opportunity for You in the Financial Services Industry.

    This industry is wide open, and you don’t need a business or finance degree to become successful here. People from all majors, occupations and backgrounds are high achievers in this industry. Some traits that can help you succeed as a financial services professional are:

    People skills
    Being able to network and connect with people helps you build a client base

    A desire to learn
    You have to be able to understand financial concepts, industry regulations, financial products and how to appropriately serve clients

    Coach-ability
    As you grow your knowledge and skills, it helps to accept the guidance and mentoring from more experienced financial services professionals

    A willingness to follow proven strategies
    There are established methods for serving clients – you’ll advance fast if you use them rather than creating your own

    An entrepreneurial mindset
    Many people who want to own and grow a business find success in this industry

    If you have one or more of these traits, why not consider becoming a financial services business owner? Talk to a WFG associate today to learn more.

    * Apprenticeship: The Workforce Solution for the Financial Services Industry, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed May 17, 2018: https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/industry/finance-business.htm. Why Canada could be headed for an advisor shortage, Wealth Professional Canada, June 5, 2017, https://www.wealthprofessional.ca/news/why-canada-could-be-headed-for-an-advisor-shortage-226317.aspx.

    Consider Becoming a Veteran Entrepreneur

    Thousands of veterans in the United States and Canada have become business owners as a way to support their families, gain the flexibility they need to transition into civilian life, and continue to do good for their communities.

    Their military experiences have given them the key skills an entrepreneur needs, including:

    • Leadership skills
    • Problem-solving skills
    • Team work
    • Discipline

    Industries like the financial services industry are ready-made for veteran entrepreneurs.

    The financial services industry – and your country -- is in need of entrepreneurs who are willing to tackle a huge problem: The millions of middle income families whose futures are not financially secure.

    Financial services businesses that excel in helping these families are often led by hard-working, purpose-driven entrepreneurs, who are capable of leading a collaborative and productive team. These leaders have many attributes that veterans have in spades.  

    It’s Time to Capitalize on Your Excellent Training

    Traits that helped you effectively protect your country can be an asset to you, your family and community if you decide to serve as a financial services entrepreneur. And an excellent place to start your business is with WFG.

    Breaking into this industry may seem challenging, but it’s not. Your WFG associate can help you get started.

    4.
    Proper Protection
    How much life insurance do you need to protect the ones you love? Good news – there's a simple way to figure it out.

    Life insurance is an important component of a sound financial strategy. 

    If you have too little, your family may not be able to have a reasonable standard of living if you were to pass away unexpectedly. If you have too much, you could be sacrificing something you may also need. Right-size your coverage and use the cash you save to reduce debt, build an emergency fund or prepare for a better future.

    The DIME Method* is a way to determine how much life insurance you need:

    Debt
    +   Income
    +   Mortgage
    +   Education**
       Insurance in Place
    Shortfall/Surplus

    Talk to a licensed WFG insurance agent, who can help you determine how much life insurance you need.

    * The DIME Method is only one method to help determine your insurable need. There are many variables that affect your life insurance needs. You may need more or less insurance depending on your needs. You may need more or less insurance depending on any existing savings, assets, retirement funds and whether the purpose of the death benefit is to replace income or for estate planning purposes.

    ** Anticipated college costs and/or university costs

    When it comes to life insurance...

    A basic rule of thumb is to have enough to provide approximately 10 times your annual family income. For example, if your current household income is $50,000, you may want to consider having $500,000 in life insurance protection.

    But that simple calculation doesn’t capture other variables that can affect your life insurance needs. 

    Here’s another approach:

    1. Think about your family’s future and assign a dollar amount to each of these items:

    • Your long-term and/or short-term debt: _____
    • Your long-term goals (for example, projected costs for your children’s education): _____
    • The insured’s annual income times the number of years it will be needed: _____
    • The amount you want to set aside for funeral costs and/or emergency funds: _____

    2. Add up the numbers above

    3. Now, think about your existing assets, such as savings or real estate, and subtract them from those costs

    The number you get provides a better starting point to determine your actual life insurance needs.

    Your next step: Meet with a licensed life insurance agent for a thorough evaluation of your needs and guidance on which type of insurance is appropriate for you.

    Hey millennials!

    You’re young and healthy. You should strongly consider purchasing life insurance, and here’s why:

    People who are young, healthy and have a good family health history are likely to receive some of the lowest rates on life insurance. And it’s best to get it when you’re young because that is when you are most insurable. So why not purchase it now?

    Life insurance can help you to:

    • Provide financial support for loved ones who may depend on you now
    • Create a strong financial foundation for your future
    • Protect the family you may have in the future

    Talk to an insurance professional to learn more about the value of life insurance.

    Before you buy life insurance...

    Your lifestyle and financial situation will determine what kind of life insurance you need. Do you need Term or Permanent? There is a difference.

    Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific period, such as 10 or 20 years – or more. It can be renewed when the term is over, usually at a higher rate. However, it does not build a cash value.

    Permanent life insurance offers lifelong financial protection as long as the policy’s premium is paid up until the death of the insured. It also builds cash value that’s funded by a portion of the premiums the policyholder pays. The policyholder can access this cash value, if needed, but any outstanding loans are subtracted from the death benefit when it is paid.

    There are several types of permanent life insurance:

    • Indexed Universal Life Insurance
    • Whole Life Insurance
    • Universal Life Insurance

    They differ in whether the premiums are level or variable and how the cash value accumulates.

    Talk to a financial professional today and find out what type of life insurance is best for you.

    5.
    Build Wealth
    Do everything you can to protect your principal, focus on savings, outpace inflation, and reduce taxes.

    The Wealth Formula is easy to understand.

    It's a straightforward way to understand the impact inflation and taxes can have on your savings as you prepare for your financial future.

    The Wealth Formula:

            Money
    +      Time
    +/–  Rate of Return
    –      Inflation
    –      Tax*
    =       Wealth**

    It illustrates how:

    • Interest rates can go up or down
    • The value of the money you save today may be worth less tomorrow
    • Taxes can reduce your overall savings

    Even though the formula is simple, making it work for you can be complicated. Seek the guidance of a financial professional who can help make sure you're on track to reach your goals.

    * WFG, Inc., their affiliated companies and its independent associates do not offer tax and/or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and/or legal professional for further guidance.

    ** This is a concept/goal developed by WFG for illustrative purposes only. The term 'wealth' is subjective and must be defined on an individual basis.

    If you’re in your twenties...

    Are you too young to start saving for retirement? Not at all. In fact, now’s the best time.

    Here's Why:

    Let’s say you’re 25 and your retirement goal is to have $1 million saved by the time you’re 65. If you start saving $655.30 per month, you’ll reach your goal in 40 years. But if you wait until you’re 45, you’ll have to save $2,432.89 per month, which is a lot of money when you may have a family and a mortgage. If you only had 10 years to save, your monthly savings amount would need to be $6,439.88. With only 5 years, contributions would need to be $14,704.57 per month. That’s assuming that the money saved in all four of these scenarios are based on a monthly compounded rate of return in a hypothetical 5 percent tax-deferred account.

    In this hypothetical example, a 5 percent compounded rate of return is assumed on hypothetical monthly investments over different time periods. The example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent any specific investment. It is unlikely that any one rate of return will be sustained over time. This example does not reflect any taxes, or fees and charges associated with any investment. If they had been applied, the period of time to reach a $1 million retirement goal would be longer. Also, keep in mind, that income taxes are due on any gains when withdrawn.
    6.
    Estate Preservation
    The best person to direct the details regarding your legacy, assets, children, and medical decisions isn't the court. It's YOU!

    Doesn't everyone have a will?

    Not even close. Only 50 percent of Canadian adults and just 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate preservation documents such as a will or living trust.* These numbers are alarming because they mean that many families run the risk of having their estates settled in the courts. That’s not a good prospect, especially for families with children under 18.

    Make estate preservation part of your strategy and be sure to have a will.

    So how do you get your papers in order?

    Work with a qualified lawyer to put an estate plan in place that:

    • Ensures your legacy reaches your intended heirs
    • Helps to manage estate and/or other taxes
    • Sets up medical and financial powers of attorney, so that someone can take care of you should you become incapacitated

    When you get started with your financial professional, you may be surprised how quick and affordable it can be to check off the important step of putting your will or living trust in place.

    * Estate Planning: When There Isn’t a Will, What Is the Way? MarketWatch, May 24, 2017, http://td.mediaroom.com/2017-05-24-Estate-Planning-When-There-Isnt-a-Will-What-is-the-Way; More Than Half of American Adults Don't Have a Will, 2017 Survey Shows, Caring.com, March 12, 2018

    Note: World Financial Group, Inc., World Financial Group Canada Inc., their affiliated companies and their associates/representatives do not offer tax, legal or accounting advice. This is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax, accounting or legal advice. You should rely solely upon your independent advisors regarding your particular situation.
    United States: World Financial Group, Inc. (WFG) is a financial services marketing company whose affiliates offer a broad array of financial products and services. Headquarters: 11315 Johns Creek Parkway, Johns Creek, GA 30097-1517. Phone: 770.453.9300. worldfinancialgroup.com. Insurance products offered through World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc., World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Hawaii, Inc., World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Massachusetts, Inc., World Financial Insurance Agency, Inc. and/or WFG Insurance Agency of Puerto Rico, Inc. - collectively WFGIA. California License #0679300

    Canada: World Financial Group Canada Inc. is a financial services marketing company whose affiliates offer a broad array of financial products and services. World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Canada Inc. (WFGIAC) offers life insurance and segregated funds. World Financial Group Canada Inc. and WFGIAC are affiliated companies. Headquarters: 5000 Yonge Street, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M2N 7E9. Phone: 416.225.2121

    © 2019 World Financial Group, Inc. All right reserved. | WFG107852-1018