By First Command President/CEO Mark Steffe
Happy New Year! I know many of us have been waiting to say those words for quite some time. With our lives upended in 2020, it’s a relief to see hope on the horizon for an end to the global pandemic. Not only can we start to look forward to normalizing our daily lives, but this is an optimal time to start planning for the future.
Below are a few tips to start the new year on a high note.
Organize your financial life.
- If you have a paper system, take time to shred old statements and reorganize folders. If possible, switch from paper to electronic statements to reduce both clutter and the potential for fraud.
- Consider paperless billing and autopay options. This will make creating and following a monthly budget much easier, and it will simplify bill paying.
- If you don’t have a system, create one! Don’t waste your hard-earned money on late fees and interest charges.
Understand where you are financially.
- Create a budget. List all expenses so you have a firm understanding of how your money is spent. This is the required first step before you can realistically plan to pay down debt or save for the future.
- Look ahead to any big expenses you may have coming up. Set aside a monthly amount to prepare for that expense rather going into debt.
Pinpoint your short-term and long-term financial goals.
- Be specific. Instead of, “Start saving money,” aim for a goal like, “Build an emergency fund equal to two months’ pay.”
- Don’t get overwhelmed. Break each goal into tasks that are easy to achieve and track, such as adding $25 to a savings account every month to build an emergency fund. Start small – the positive habit will become the foundation you can build on.
- Make it automatic. Set up recurring transfers to savings – or, for long-term goals like retirement, make sure you have automatic deductions into your TSP or 401K account.
Get smarter about money matters.
- There are many great books, blogs and podcasts out there to help you take control of your personal finances. Check out FirstCommand.com/coachingcenter for an array of helpful articles for military families.
- Enlist a friend to participate so you can share and apply what you’re learning. If you’re in a book club, consider a financial title for the group to read and discuss.
Connect with a financial advisor.
- Everyone has dreams, but without a plan to achieve those dreams, the likelihood they become reality is low. An advisor can help you build a plan and get started.
- At First Command, our primary focus is financial coaching for military families. Financial coaching means we start by helping you develop a customized financial plan, which is really your roadmap to get you from where you are today to where you want to be five, 10, or 15 years from now.
- We’ll look at the three cornerstones of financial health – banking, investments and insurance – and personalize a plan for you and your family. There’s no minimum net worth to get started, and we provide financial plans for active duty service members as a complimentary service.
- We don’t just help you build the plan, we help you implement it as well. We are committed to lifelong financial coaching to help you pursue the goals that are important to you and your family.
Let’s all get a jump on a happy and prosperous 2021! Get Started.
Learn more about getting financially squared away with this video from First Command President/CEO Mark Steffe:
Mark Steffe is the President/CEO of First Command. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Illinois, graduating with high honors. He holds series 7, 8, 23, 63, and 65 securities registrations, plus life and health insurance licenses.
©2020 First Command Financial Services, Inc. is the parent company of First Command Brokerage Services, Inc.(Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Advisory Services, Inc., First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Securities products and brokerage services are provided by First Command Brokerage Services, Inc., a broker-dealer. Financial planning and investment advisory services are provided by First Command Advisory Services, Inc., an investment adviser. Insurance products and services are provided by First Command Insurance Services, Inc. Banking products and services are provided by First Command Bank (Member FDIC). Securities are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met.