3 Ways to Organize Your Financial Life

When you’re just starting out, the thought of saving for 50 years from now seems like a long way off, but as life expectancies continue to rise and early retirement mounts due to layoffs or medical conditions, you will need to sustain yourself for more years in retirement compared to your parents’ generation. The biggest part of your financial success is having a plan and knowing where to stash your cash.

Ilyas Akbar, a retirement planning specialist for AXA Advisors, says it’s good for young professionals just starting out to think of their money as three buckets; short, mid, and long-term. BLACK ENTERPRISE and Akbar created a plan to help you identify your financial goals and some possible investment options for achieving those ambitions.

  • Short-term

Short-term goals are generally defined as those goals you want to achieve within two years. Akbar says these can include building an emergency savings fund, saving for a down payment on a home, purchasing a car, or going back to school etc. In the event of an unexpected expense “you want to have liquid cash available that’s not tied up in the market,” he adds.

Savings Vehicles:

1. Savings account: Although interest rates are lower, your money is liquid and your deposits are FDIC-insured up to at least $250,000 per insured bank. You can easily transfer or withdraw your money from savings accounts.

2. Checking accounts: Although most are non-interest bearing, some banks and credit unions offer higher interest rates. These accounts are FDIC-insured and can be easily accessed. Banks may impose minimum balances, limit the number of transactions that can be made within a time period or may require direct deposit to qualify for the high-interest rate.

3. Money Market Accounts: The rate of return is typically higher on MMA’s since they are based on the current market rate of interest. They are generally FDIC-insured. Banks may impose minimum balances, or limit the number of transactions that can be made within a time period.

4. Certificates of Deposit: CDs generally receive a higher interest rate, especially on longer terms, which range from one month to five years. They are fairly liquid, but there is a penalty if you withdraw the funds before its maturity date.

Rate of Return: The average rate of return that one might target is 1-2%. “You won’t earn a lot on your money, but the benefit is liquidity and stability,” says Akbar.

  • Mid-term

Mid-term goals are generally those goals that you want to accomplish in the next 5-15 years, such as early retirement, business, education, a second home or a large purchase. “This bucket provides financial flexibility, freedom and allows people to enhance their abilities in their lives,” says Akbar.

Where to Invest:

1. Mutual Funds: By investing in a pool of stocks, bonds, and other instruments with multiple investors, gives you holdings in several different companies (diversification). Like stocks, they can also be converted into cash.

2. Stocks: Ownership of a corporation represented by shares that are a claim on the corporation’s earnings and assets.

3. Real Estate: A publicly traded company that invests in a specific type of property, from shopping centers and office buildings, to apartment complexes and hotels.

4. Exchange Traded Funds: ETFs are similar to mutual funds in that they represent a collection of investments. Unlike mutual funds, ETFs trade on an exchange (hence the name). Some investors prefer ETFs to mutual funds because they have low expense ratios and generate lower capital gains taxes than similar mutual funds.

Rate of Return: The average rate of return that one might target is 6-10%.

  • Long-term goals

“This is probably this biggest thing you’ll ever save for,” says Akbar. This savings for your retirement. Social Security won’t be able to fund your retirement. Here are other investment vehicles you may want to consider to help you start investing for your golden years.

Where to Invest:

1. 401(k)-Tax deferred retirement account that an employee elects automatic contributions from their paycheck to the plan on a pretax basis. Distributions received before age 59 1/2 are subject to an early distribution penalty of 10% additional tax unless an exception applies.

2. Individual Retirement Account: An IRA is a fund earmarked for retirement savings (There are several types of IRAs: Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and SEP IRAs.)

3. Cash Value Life Insurance: An insurance policy that covers you for the duration of your life. It builds cash value

Rate of Return: The average rate of return that one might target is 8-10%.