Ten Steps to Control Your Finances: Steps 9 & 10

Last time, we looked into maxing out our retirement funds and buying a house   Now, we’ve reached the end of financial journey together, and it’s time to cover a few last steps.  I hope you’re in a charitable mood, cause that’s our next step.

Step 9: Donate To Charity (If You Aren’t Already)

I’ve been debating about when to bring this issue up.  I’m hoping that, even as you work to pay down your debts or save up for your house down payment, you find some money to donate to those who are less fortunate.  I haven’t mentioned it as a specific step up to this point because I thought that it might be better for you to focus on getting your own finances in order.

Now, though, there’s really no more excuses.  If you’ve been following my steps to this point, you’ve eliminated your high interest debt, are investing enough for a solid retirement, and have an emergency fund that can last for six months or more.  There’s not much that should rattle your plans now, so what reason could there be not to give money to those who are less fortunate?

If you need somewhere to start, JustGive.org is great one stop shop; you can search for charities, find out pertinent information, and even make your donation directly through the site.

Step 10: Save and Invest for Other Long-Term Goals

Well, we’ve reached the end of our journey together.  At this point, you know enough that you should be able to monitor and control your finances.  The question now is, where do you go from here?  There are many possibilities, depending on your goals,  values and hopes.  Here are some possible avenues to pursue:

-Pay down low interest debt: We put aside paying down debt with interest rates below six percent earlier in order to focus on other financial goals.  Now, of course, all those other financial goals have been achieved.  If you want to be debt-free, now is the perfect time to pay down any remaining debt and live debt-free from this point on.  Just follow the same procedure for the high interest debt, and you’ll be out of debt in no time.

-Invest for your childrens’ education: If you want to help your children (assuming you have any) with college, the best time to do so is when you’ve managed your finances properly and don’t need to worry about saving anything more for yourself.  There are several different different accounts designed for college savings, including 529 accounts and Coverdell Accounts.

-Invest more to retire early: One of the great working person fantasies: put more money into your investments and with some luck and planning, you could cut years off the time you need to work and save in order to retire in the manner you desire.  The more you save, the sooner you can retire, and the longer you’ll have to enjoy your retirement.  (That is, as long as your retirement plans don’t include lots of sky diving or other wild activities.)

There you have it; ten steps that should lead you to a better financial situation.  They won’t be easy or quick (this week of posts could easily take years to properly enact), but the end result, financial freedom, is well worth the effort.

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