By Geeta K. Brana, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, Geeta Brana Wealth
Let’s face it, life is not always a bed of roses and sometimes, we have to take back control of our lives, independence and financial security. Whether you are single, married, a new mom, widowed, or recovering from divorce – here are a few strategies that you can employ to protect yourself.
1. The key to creating wealth is to live well below your means and save the rest.
It simply means to put money in a savings account (thus “paying yourself”) before you spend and accumulate debt. Some examples include:
- Create an emergency fund equal to 6 – 12 months of your expenses.
- Contribute to a retirement plan monthly – aim to save at least 10% of your net income.
- Do not count on the next bonus – do not spend it until it’s physically in your hand.
- Create an annual budget and savings plan based on your future retirement and other savings goals. Then, figure out how much you are required to save each year based on that goal and deduct that amount from your post-tax annual income. You will be left with a pot of money that you now have available to spend each year.
- Once you begin a savings or investment plan, do not review your investment performance daily. It will lead to unnecessary stress. Think long term. Do you calculate your home’s value every day?
2. Do not use money to make yourself feel good.
Like other vices, the psychological high that comes from a purchase is fleeting. There is nothing wrong with buying designer handbags or shoes as long as you live well below your means and do not use purchases to make you happy. If you are consistently practicing retail therapy, replace it with activities that promote self-reliance and self-respect – consider seeing a therapist. See suggestions below on how to maintain a disciplined approach to money:
- Allocate time every month (preferably every week) to manage your money. Track cash flow and budgets using tools like Quicken, Mint.com, etc.
- Maintain accurate records to help you file your taxes.
- Meet with a CPA to develop ways to minimize taxes. Take advantage of itemized deductions and exemptions by planning throughout the year.
- Maintain proper insurance coverage for life, health, disability, long term care, auto, home, personal, and an umbrella liability insurance policy.
- Think before buying! Statistics show that consumers base 95% of their spending decisions on emotions and 5% by the numbers. Avoid impulsive buying and avoid “buyer’s remorse” by waiting a week before buying a large purchase. You may not find it desirable after seven days!
- Shop with a list. Shopping without a list is more expensive than with one.
- Cars: buy rather than lease. Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle with an extended warranty may be cheaper in the long term.
3. Be in control of your money. In other words, do not let money control you.
Once you have made investments, learn about them. If working with a Financial Advisor, ensure you understand how they manage your money, investment philosophy, fees, details of products they use etc. Your involvement will help identify any questionable activity that could negatively affect your finances. Request financial and retirement plan projections from your FA using future inflation assumptions and a reasonable rate of return based on your risk tolerance. If working with a team of consultants, ensure that your CPA, estate planning attorney and FA coordinate your complete financial plan.
4. Be smart and savvy with credit card debt.
- Pay your balances on time and in full each month to avoid late payment penalties.
- Consider using cash instead of credit (which creates a healthy spending barrier).
- If you have debt, develop a plan to pay it off with a specific dollar amount each month.
- Apply for a credit card with a 12-month introductory low or zero percent interest rate.
- Consolidate high-rate debt and transfer to the new low-rate card.
- Do not co-sign a loan with anyone. Even spouses should have separate credit.
- Obtain your credit score annually. Aim for a FICO score above 700 (850 is the highest).
- Freeze your cards. Literally, put them in the freezer for a week and see how you feel!
Geeta K. Brana provides comprehensive wealth management and asset management advisory services to women in transition.
Geeta has over twenty-five years of experience in the International Capital Markets. Her career started in London in 1995 with Lloyds Capital Markets, where she trained in all aspects of International finance and credit analysis. She joined Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in 2000, gaining extensive experience in structuring and trading debt packages for multinational corporations throughout the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Japan.
In 2003, Geeta began her career in the U.S. with Smith Barney’s Wealth Management Division (Citigroup), turning her extensive knowledge to helping individuals. In a primarily male-dominated environment, she built a successful wealth management practice in Washington DC and later in New York City, working with high-net-worth individuals and institutions.
After a career break, while her children were young, Geeta has returned to wealth management through Geeta Brana Wealth, her own boutique independent advisory firm with deep roots in Monmouth County, NJ. Geeta is also the Founder of WHEEL (Women, Helping Educate & Enhance Life), a volunteer organization designed to educate & empower women in transition by providing access to expert advice through networking and educational seminars. Currently, Geeta’s practice focuses on “Women In Transition,”; assisting women in all phases of their lives.
To learn more about unique wealth management services please visit Geeta Brana Wealth at www.geetabrana.com. I am also the Founder of WHEEL (Women,Helping Educate & Enhance Life) a nonprofit organization designed to assist women in all phases of their lives.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA. RAA does not provide tax or legal advice.
GEETA BRANA WEALTH
FCM, 960 Holmdel Road, Building 1
Holmdel, NJ 07733
Photo Credit: fizkes