Prepare for emergencies and still plan for retirement

The only things that are certain in life are death, taxes—and the unexpected. Sudden, unforeseen events can come at you at any time from any number of places.

Take, for instance, the death of a family member. If it’s a spouse, they may have life insurance to provide protection for family members. But, what if you’re the breadwinner, your spouse dies, and you have children to care for. Would you have the flexibility to take some time off to care for them, if needed? Could you pay for childcare, even for a limited period of time?

On a broader level, as we’ve experienced, a global pandemic ravaged the economy and cost millions of people their jobs. While the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been extreme and rare, the potential for any job loss at any point in one’s career is far more common.

Weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards or surprise cold snaps, can wreak havoc on your finances, too. You may have homeowners insurance to protect damage to property, but what if you had to relocate for a few weeks or even a few days as repairs were being made. Could you afford to stay somewhere else for a set period of time?

While the only constant is change, it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for it.

Saving for both long-term and short-term situations is important, but doing both simultaneously can be daunting. By working with a financial professional, they can help you identify your priorities and objectives so you can meet your needs today and long-term goals tomorrow.

Financial professionals start by getting to know you and what’s important to you. By understanding those things first, they can then help you design a strategy tailored to meet your specific needs as well as ensure your overall financial well-being. For instance, if you have a family, a priority for you might be life insurance to protect your loved ones against uncertainty.

Another thing to consider is that, regardless of whether you are single or married, permanent life insurance also has the potential to build cash value throughout your lifetime.

As to preparing for the short-term, the traditional rule of thumb for building an emergency fund is to save enough to cover basic expenses for three to six months. Here are some key steps to take for creating one:

  • Review your budget. If don’t have a budget, make one. Be sure to focus on the primary expenses that you would need to cover on a monthly basis, such as mortgage/rent, food, utilities, in case of emergency.
  • Adjust savings. One of the great things about a tax-deferred savings plan is the ability to shift the amount of your contributions depending on your circumstances. If you’re going through a rough period, consider decreasing —but not stopping -- your contribution so you can put more money into a liquid savings account if need be. When things improve, you can increase that figure again.
  • Manage your debt. Credit cards are convenient by allowing you to make purchases virtually anytime, anywhere. If not used wisely, though, they can lead to spending beyond one’s means. All-in-all, they are a smart tool to have for emergencies as long as you exercise good judgement in how they are used, and understand the impact of interest rates, as those can accumulate fast.

Looking ahead, to achieve financially the kind of retirement that’s most meaningful to you, participating in a tax-deferred savings plan, such as 403(b) or 457(b) if available to you, is a smart strategy. Your contributions are deducted directly from your paycheck, reducing your taxable income today while enabling savings to grow over time.

For 2021, you can contribute up to $19,500 and an extra $6,500 if you are 50 and older. Some employers may even choose to match any or all of the contributions that employees make to their plan.

Whatever your situation, acting now to prepare for the short- and long-term not only will help you achieve financial well-being, but provide you with peace-of-mind.

Jason Jack headshot
Jason Jack
Financial Professional
Retirement Benefits Specialist, Tax Sheltered Plans

1330 Lake Robbins Drive, Suite 210
The Woodlands, TX 77380
p. (832) 616-5084
Schedule a meeting

This article was written by an outside source and is provided for general information only. No part of this article should be considered or relied upon as financial, investment, legal or tax advice. Equitable Advisors and its associates and affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice or services.

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