October 3rd was World Financial Planning Day, and we’ve recently marked the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis. As we reflect on the past ten years, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your financial strategy and make sure you’re avoiding the personal finance mistakes made a decade ago
Follow this check-list of best practices, inspired by the events of the crisis and developed by CFP®professionals, to keep yourself on track:
1. Get Personal. Develop a thorough understanding of your personal situation (cash reserves, debt and current retirement contribution level) and let that guide your decisions.
2. Develop a Cash Flow. Identify how much money is coming in and how much is going out to develop a short-, intermediate- and long-term game plan.
3. Maintain a Healthy Emergency Reserve Fund. Keep a safety net(six to 12 months of expenses for workers and 12 to 24 months for retirees) to avoid selling assets and/or invading retirement accounts.
4. Maintain a Diversified Portfolio. One of thebest ways to prevent emotional swings is to create and adhere to a diversified portfolio that spreads out your risk across different asset classes.
5. Keep Making Retirement Contributions. If you need to reducethe amount due to unforeseen circumstances, try to at least capture any company match.
6. Manage Cash. If you need money within a year or so, keep it in a safe place, like a checking, savings or money market account, a short-term Certificate of Deposit (CD) or a bond.
For more information and an interactive timeline of events leading up to the economic collapse, check out my fellow CFP®Board Ambassador, Jill Schlesinger, and her blog post, “10 Years Later: Lessons from the Financial Crisis of 2008.”