Sarah Ruef-Lindquist: Setting goals, and planning to achieve them
How many times have you gone to a restaurant for dinner and just told the server, "Give me whatever you want to and I'm sure I'll like it."? Probably never. Why? Because when you go out to eat, you usually want to choose what you like from a menu of items, rather than leave it up to someone else who doesn't know your likes and dislikes.
Or how many times have you gotten in your car and said, "I don't really care where I end up. I'm just going to drive until I run out of gas."? Again, probably never.
You wouldn't think of setting off to hike the Himalayas without studying up on the terrain, culture and maybe even finding a local guide to accompany you, to make it the kind of experience you want it to be.
Planning for your financial future can be similar: If you don't decide what you want, you might not get anything you would want. In other words, if you haven't decided on a desired destination, you'll probably never get to one that's desirable.
Setting a goal like, "I want to be able to retire when I'm 65" is fantastic and powerful. Everything you do with your finances from that point on can have that goal in mind, with strategies designed to achieve it. What kind of strategies? They might include reducing and eliminating all debt, and even having no mortgage by age 65, and contributing regularly to a retirement plan as much as your circumstances will allow.
Speaking of Retirement: relying on social security to provide sufficient support in retirement is not necessarily a sound plan. Especially for women. According to a November 2016 article by Mary Beth Franklin in Investment News, "Why Social Security is Crucial for Women," in 2013 women's average annual Social Security benefit was $12,851 for those age 65 and older versus $16,590 for men, and makes up almost half of those women's retirement income.
Do you have a goal? Take a moment to envision a goal that is important to you, then set about doing what you can to achieve it, with the advice and professional support of your financial advisor.