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In our world of instant gratification and easy access to products, it’s easy to spend money without thinking about the long-term consequences. Investing seems like an afterthought or an avenue for excess funds only. But the one constant piece of advice throughout all financial philosophies seems to be to invest early and invest often.
According to Megan Fontenot, Certified Financial Planner with Oak Grove Wealth in Lake Charles, investing is something everyone should be doing. “It’s not just for a select few,” she says. “By assigning a purpose to each dollar earned, including saving, and investing, you can establish a solid savings strategy that ensures a portion of your money is working for you and your future.
Starting off on your investment journey can feel overwhelming. Especially if finance jargon sends you into a tailspin. Fear not, Fontenot offers these tips for taking your investment game from zero to 60.
Knowledge is Power
The first step is to take advantage of the tools available to you. “Reach out to your local banks and ask about their highest-yield savings account,” she says. “You should be working on an emergency fund that covers three to six months of your expenses.” Building yourself a safety net can
help make emergency financial situations feel more like inconveniences instead of catastrophes.
Unlock Full Potential
If your employer offers a retirement plan with matching, ensure you are getting the most out of it. “If you can’t start out by investing the max, that’s okay,” Fontenot says. “But it should be your goal to increase contributions over time until you are receiving that maximum benefit.”
It All Makes Cents
It might feel like investing requires copious amounts of excess funds or a lucrative salary, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “Investing is not limited to large amounts,” Fontenot says. “You can start with small contributions and still make a meaningful impact.” Make it a point to increase your investments in small increments over time or when your income changes.
Set It and Forget It
Automating your investments is by far one of the best hacks. “Set up an automatic transfer from your account on the days you get paid,” Fontenot says. “You won’t have to do it manually and you’ll be less tempted to spend that money elsewhere.”
If you still feel unsure about the basics of investing, Fontenot advises reaching out to the professionals. “Don’t hesitate to seek the counsel of a certified financial planner,” she says. “There are so many different vessels for investment and it’s their job to help you understand and implement what’s best for you.”
If you’re looking to save for something in the short term – home improvement, home downpayment, real estate investment, or other large purchases – there are a few options to consider. “With the recent increase in interest rates, banks are now offering high-yield savings accounts or short-term certificates of deposit (CDs),” Fontenot says. “These can be suitable options if you have cash set aside for an upcoming event.”
One of the most pressing concerns for most millennials, who are now parents themselves, is preparing their children for a prosperous future. Planning for a quality education and teaching those core tenants of financial success early on are key. “When you’re ready to start saving for college, a 529 plan is a great option,” says Fontenot. “The Louisiana Start Plan through the state allows you to receive a state income tax deduction and for the account’s earnings to be withdrawn tax-free for qualified college expenses.”
No matter your financial goals, experts agree that putting money aside now is something that future you will be incredibly grateful for.
To learn more about Oak Grove Wealth visit www.oakgrovewealth.com.