As we move closer to the end of 2014, and enjoy the holiday season of decorations, gifts and much more, many people turn their attention to the new year and all of the things they want to accomplish. Some people resolve to lose weight, while others vow to get their financial houses in order. Millennials in particular may want to pick up the pace with their finances in 2015. Part of doing so entails figuring out your own goals, and asking yourself three key questions:
A 2014 Voya Financial survey, taken from Jan. 14 to Jan. 27, for people age 20 to 34 with a minimum household income of $20,000, found millennials need and want in-person help with their finances. The research found that two-thirds of millennials have no idea how much they will need to save by the time they retire, while more than three-quarters of them express interest in learning about basic investing and retirement preparation.
Given these findings, how do millennials start to get a better handle on their finances? In addition, how do they work with a financial advisor, to help them get on the right path? Here are three crucial questions for millennials to ask themselves as they plan to meet with a financial advisor, whether you are starting from scratch or fine-tuning a financial plan.
1. What is your "why"? This is the first, and perhaps most important, question. Financial advisors are like a GPS system: They can keep you on the right path in your financial journey, and help you get where you want to go. But a GPS needs to know where you want to go in order to help you. In other words, be able to articulate your financial goals. Is one of your goals to buy a home within five years? Do you plan to retire by a certain age? Do you want to shift careers or go back to school? Answer the "why" questions to determine your goals and help smooth out the road ahead.
2. What is your worth? This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's not. You have to know your financial facts and figures, such as how much you have saved, how much you make, what amount of that salary is going toward savings, debt, living expenses and other needs, and what other investments you have. Knowing your worth gives you a clearer picture of where you are. With this knowledge in your back pocket, a financial advisor can help determine if your goals are reasonable, or how aggressive you may have to be in order to reach them.
3. What needs to go in your financial suitcase? In order to prepare for any trip -- even a financial one -- you have to have the right things in your suitcase. Part of preparing your finances is making sure you have the right gear to weather any storm that may come your way. You should have three to six months of your take-home pay in a savings account where you can quickly access the money if an emergency arises. In addition, look at disability and life insurance coverage offered through your employer to help protect your income. A financial advisor can help you figure out the right amount of emergency savings and insurance coverage for your situation.
The bottom line is that millennials should start preparing for their financial futures today. First, ask yourself these three questions to get started. Then determine the guidance, resources and tools at your disposal, which are often provided through your employer and your retirement plan provider. Lastly, assemble a team of professionals that includes a financial advisor to help you navigate the road ahead.
Voya Retirement Coach Jacob Gold is a third generation financial advisor with Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., a broker-dealer of Voya FinancialTM. He is a published author of "Financial Intelligence; Getting Back to Basics after an Economic Meltdown", which was published in August 2009. Gold is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and Series 7, 24 and 66 securities registered.
Securities and Investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC)
By Jacob Gold
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.
Investment advice offered through Gerber Kawasaki Inc, a registered investment advisor. Please consult your investment professional before acting on any advice.