Are you a Democrat or a Republican?
Wait, don’t answer that. I don’t actually want to know.
Because it’s not going to change anything.
Odds are that if you are reading this you are a middle class woman who is married with children and lives in the United States. Cool. So am I. If you aren’t a middle class woman from the USA, GET OUT. No, I’m just kidding. Stay and introduce yourself. I like new friends.
But ok, this isn’t meant to solicit new pen pals, and I’m happily married so I’m not looking for a date either. Although I do have a couple of single friends, so, hmm..
Any-way (cue the end of the Ellen show).
This is serious business.
I am going to bring up politics, which I never do.
See, there I said it.
Now we can all move past the elephant in the room to get to my actual point.
Regardless of who you are, or where your political affiliations lie (yes, even if Miss Piggy is your favorite write-in candidate) there are things you need and the current changes to our government systems and programs are going to affect you. Especially if they aren’t working correctly. The change may be good. The change may be bad. It doesn’t matter. But, it can potentially paralyze you and your family temporarily or permanently.
What matters is that it is beyond your immediate control.
Which is why it is crucial for you to take matters into your own hands.
#1 have an emergency fund
This is critical. Stop living paycheck to paycheck and aim to save up a minimum of 3 months worth of expenses. This money should be available in an account that you can access as needed without fees or penalties. It is for true emergencies. Need brakes on your car? Need heat in the winter? Those are emergencies. A new television is not an emergency. When you do need to take money out of this account, work to put it back as soon as possible.
#2 contribute to a retirement account
Just about everyone can cut back somewhere. Cancel cable. Stop buying a coffee every morning. Order water instead of soda or tea when eating out. Every little bit adds up and over time can help ensure that you don’t have to rely on social security when the time comes.
#3 keep your debt low
A modest home mortgage and a small auto loan should be the extent of debt you carry. Should something happen to limit your income, having to pay off credit card debt will make it even more difficult to stay afloat. Most times credit card debt accrues buying things you don’t even need, so if it isn’t an absolute need and you can’t pay for it in cash and don’t have an emergency fund in place, you probably don’t need it.
#4 become self-sufficient
Learn to do for yourself. From cooking from scratch to making your own soap and detergents. Having life skills that don’t require you to buy as many retail products not only means fewer visits to the store, but means money savings for you. In extreme conditions, becoming self-sufficient can mean the difference between merely surviving and thriving. Also make sure that you can afford to carry your own health insurance, or can cover the potential bills outright, should the need arise.
#5 have a plan
Talk to your spouse and have a plan in place for how you will get through potential loss of jobs or income. Know exactly how much money you spend on necessities so that you know how much income you do need to survive. Will you get a job delivering pizzas? Have an untapped skill you can use to create supplemental income? Have an older child who can help contribute by mowing lawns? Having this planned out ahead of time will allow you to not miss a beat should something happen. Review available health care plans that are a good fit for your family. Understand what your costs would be should you need to buy your own plan if an employer was previously providing.
I really think that with a little bit of focus, all of these 5 things are easily achievable and most of them need only a commitment from you to be frugal and smart about every dollar you spend.
Retirement planning is the only thing on this list that may leave you scratching your head. For many of us getting through the month is about as far ahead as we can plan.
But that’s ok.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you not only understand your options but give you peace of mind that your heard earned savings won’t disappear. Right now we all need a bit of security and reassurance that retirement will, in fact, bring guaranteed income for life.
Retirement options – what the heck is annuity?
One of the most predictable and practical option for retirement savings is called an annuity. It’s actually a fairly simple idea.
Genworth Insurance describes an annuity like this:
You give money to an insurance company and in return they give you a guaranteed stream of income for a specific period of time or even for life.
The resource below will tell you more about the guarantees that annuities can provide you and your family.
How many of those 5 things are you on track with?
Do you think it is important to take matters into your own hands so you don’t have to rely on the government or anyone else?