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Creating a Long-Term Financial Plan

To help manage your personal finances, you can now purchase computer software that will balance your checkbook, figure out your budget, track your investments, and even help take the sting out of filing your income tax return. Even with the best apps available, you still have to take the initiative to create a strategy that will meet your needs while reducing the stress that goes along with financial planning.

The following steps may help you organize your plan to manage your personal finances:

Review Annually. It’s important to review your financial situation and consult a qualified financial professional at least once a year to discuss appropriate strategies for your unique circumstances.

Pay Yourself First. Each month, transfer a set amount from earnings to savings or investments. Hypothetically, a monthly savings of $1,000, assuming an earnings rate of 8%, could grow to over $180,000 in just 10 years. (This example is for illustrative purposes only.)

Reduce Consumer Debt. Avoid high credit card finance charges by paying off balances monthly. If you must carry a balance, use cards offering low finance rates beyond the introductory period.

Take Advantage of Tax-Deferred Savings. If you qualify, contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), 401(k) plan, or other qualified plan that offers tax-deferred savings to help fund your retirement.

Bring Your Estate Plan Up-to-Date. Have your will and any trusts reviewed by your qualified insurance professional to determine the appropriate amount of life insurance coverage you may need. Review your estate plan with a qualified legal professional whenever major changes occur in your life.

Set Long-Term Financial Goals. Work within three time frames, setting one-year, three-year, and 10-year goals. Evaluate your progress each term and make adjustments, as appropriate, to achieve long-term success.

Make a commitment now to these financial strategies. While there may be no quick fix in financial planning, you can help to reduce the stress that often accompanies managing your personal finances, and stay on track for your financial future.

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