Personal Finance Success Is a Journey, Not a Destination
Has anyone else noticed an uptick in conversation about personal finance this month? As someone who’s worked in the financial industry for many years, I’m always pleasantly surprised when the rest of the world becomes more interested in the topics I deal with every day – things like investing, saving, and debt management.
April is National Financial Literacy Month. It’s a good time to reflect on how we might be able to manage our finances just a little bit better, revisit strategies and think about financial objectives. By May, we’ll be happily planning BBQs and vacations, so doing some spring-cleaning now could go a long way towards achieving our long-term goals.
So the big question is, have you taken time to actually make a financial plan for yourself and your family? Many early stage professionals find themselves so busy with their day-to-day lives that they aren’t really planning for the future. Believe me, I understand – my husband and I both work full time and have two young children, so I know how hard it can be to make time for financial discussions.
Troublingly, research shows that the confidence many of us do have in our financial planning prowess may be misguided. A recent report from NerdWallet and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that 92% of those surveyed felt confident about their last big financial decision and that two out of three felt they deserved an “A” or a “B” for their financial knowledge. Yet, only 57% are actually saving for retirement, and of those who are currently repaying student loans, 58% say they’re unable to contribute to emergency or retirement savings due to their debt load. A great way to see if you are on the right track for retirement is to use SoFi’s retirement calculator.
In other words, we all think we’re doing a good job with money management, but are we really?
My husband and I have the same challenges that I often hear about from SoFi members. With two graduate degrees and two incomes in the family, we’re financially literate – but we still worry that we’re under-saving and over-spending, and wonder whether we’ve properly allocated our investments to achieve our long-term goals.
Above all, we have no time leftover at the end of our workday to actually sit down and address these concerns head on. We’d much rather be playing with our kids, eating a nice meal and watching the latest episode of Mad Men. We know it pays off to have a plan and stick to it, but it’s hard to find time to discuss and manage finances on an ongoing basis.
Financial Literacy Month reminds us all to take that time to evaluate our spending, savings and planning habits. But focusing on finances just once a year is not going to be enough. It would be like spending all year Netflix-bingeing on the couch, then trying to go out and run a marathon just because it’s “National Exercise Month.” Not sure about you, but I’m pretty sure that if I did that, I wouldn’t get far.
Clearly it’s much better to address your personal finance situation more than once a year. Like having good eating habits, managing your financial habits can really make a difference in your life. If you’re as time-pressed as I am, it helps to have an idea of where to focus your limited time and energy when you do turn your attention to financial planning.
Think about your own goals. For example, how do you save and invest when you have student loans? When do you pull the trigger on buying a home, especially when you live in an expensive market area and you’re dealing with education debt? These are a few of the conundrums facing our members and so many other busy young professionals out there.
At SoFi, it’s our mission to help people like you make smart financial decisions, and one way we can do that is by offering simple, actionable tips for dealing with the big money questions that are on your mind – ideas you can easily consume and execute, so you can keep your finances on track while also living your busy life. Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing these insights here on the SoFi blog, as well as cataloging my own struggles and successes with personal finance.
Because if there’s anything I’ve learned so far, it’s that financial success is journey, not a destination. And I’m right there with you.
Got a burning personal finance question you’d like me to tackle? Please leave it in the comments section below!
Christina Kramlich is the Co-Head of Marketplace Investments and Investor Relations at SoFi. More broadly, Christina enjoys leveraging her many years of startup and financial industry experience to mentor others in their personal and professional journeys, especially if the journeys are entrepreneurial in nature.
Christina is a registered representative and holds FINRA Series 7, 62, & 63 licenses.