Whether you’re on your own because you are single, your marriage has ended or your significant other has passed, being in the position of sole responsibility for the management of your finances may be stressful. Your ability to manage your finances effectively and stress free is key in securing your financial future. Consistent recourse to basic resources can give you control and confidence about your financial security.
Cash flow: Know all of your sources of income, when it’s expected and how much, and then do the same for all of your expenses. If you have to guesstimate on any of it, err on the high side with expenses. The information you get from doing this will be enormously helpful as you make other important financial decisions.
Debt: Pay balances monthly to avoid high credit card finance charges and if you have to carry balances, use cards with the lowest possible finance rates. Know the terms of any other outstanding debt you may have. If you find your expenses are more than your income, you’re going to want to make some important and perhaps difficult choices.
Credit: Monitoring your credit may help to alert you to instances of identity theft. Especially in light of some high profile security breaches of late, protecting your identity and knowing what steps to take before you discover it’s been compromised can be enormously helpful.
Have a system: Have some kind of system or routine for the management of both paper and process. Decide whether it is best to pay bills online or by cheque and whether to pay them as they come in or once a month. Keep all of your financial documents in an organized and easy to access place.
Goals: If thinking about long-term goals feels overwhelming, start with the short-term ones. The important thing with setting goals is to start somewhere, and taking even small steps can help you move toward those actions that can help you realize them.
Assets: While having accounts in multiple places creates the illusion of being diversified, it’s just an illusion. It makes it more difficult to get a handle on what you really have and whether or not the overall allocation makes sense for you. Use caution if considering adding to an illiquid financial product. This could seriously limit your access to funds. Know the values of your other assets as well – home, car and property.
Have an estate plan: Documents such as a durable power of attorney, health care proxy and living will must be in place NoW, before a disabling injury or critical illness. A will or trust must be written and in place, signed, too. Estate planning is something far too many people put off and often, until it’s truly too late.
Protect yourself: Review your risk management plans. As your life circumstances change, so your health, disability, long-term care and life insurance needs are likely to change as well. You want to be sure neither you nor loved ones are exposed to unnecessary risk.
Going through this exercise is fundamental to sound financial planning. If your situation is straightforward and you want to do this on your own, there are many tools and resources available on the web. If you’d feel more confident working with an experienced advisor, find a Chartered Life Underwriter professional or Certified Cash Specialist. They are required to act Under a Professional Code of Conduct and act according to your best interests.