April is National Financial Capability Month, which encourages us to improve our financial literacy and take steps toward better financial management. With the pandemic's continued economic woes, financial knowledge and preparedness are more important than ever. Here are some financial tools and concepts to help you protect your finances and plan for the future.
Health Savings Accounts
HSAs are a type of tax-advantaged savings account that you can use to pay for qualified medical expenses. They are paired with high-deductible health plans and can be a great way to save money on healthcare expenses, while also reducing your taxable income and helping you save for the future. You can contribute to an HSA through payroll deductions, and your contributions grow tax-free. Plus, you can use the funds in your HSA to pay for a variety of healthcare expenses, including deductibles, copays, prescriptions, dental, vision, and much more.
Life insurance can provide peace of mind and protect your loved ones in case something unexpected happens to you. A life insurance policy pays out a lump sum of money to your beneficiaries when you pass away, which can help cover expenses like funeral costs, outstanding debts, and living expenses. Depending on the type of policy you choose, your beneficiaries may also receive tax-free income.
Disability Income Protection
Disability insurance can help you stay financially secure if you become unable to work due to an illness or injury. This type of insurance pays out a portion of your income if you are unable to work, providing a safety net for you and your family. Disability income insurance can help you pay for living expenses like rent, mortgage payments, and groceries, and can be especially valuable if you don't have substantial savings or other sources of income.
In addition to these financial tools, there are other strategies you can use to protect your finances and plan for the future:
Paying off debt: One of the biggest financial challenges people face is debt. Whether you have credit card debt, student loans, or a mortgage, it's important to have a plan for paying off your debt. One popular method is the "debt snowball" method, which involves paying off your smallest debts first and then using the money you would have spent on those debts to pay off larger debts. This method can be motivating because you see progress quickly, and it can help you build momentum toward paying off all of your debt.
Creating a savings plan: This involves setting aside a portion of your income each month to save for future expenses like a down payment on a house, a new car, or a vacation. You can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account to make saving easier and more consistent. Even small amounts can add up over time, so don't be discouraged if you can only save a little each month.
Building an emergency fund: Your emergency fund should ideally cover 3-6 months of living expenses and should be held in a separate account that you can access easily in case of an emergency. This fund can help you cover unexpected expenses like car repairs, medical bills, or job loss without going into debt.
Planning for retirement: This involves saving for retirement through a 401(k) or IRA, and making sure you have a plan for how you will spend your retirement years. It's never too early or too late to start saving for retirement, and even small contributions can make a big difference over time.
Financial literacy is ongoing. Financial education shouldn't stop in April. Read financial literature, attend financial education courses, and consult financial professionals. Review your personal finances and change your strategy when needed. Marriage, having children, and buying a property can all modify your financial picture.
Don't hesitate to ask for help. Financial consultants, credit counselors, and others can help you achieve your financial goals. Improve your financial literacy and plan for the future to achieve financial security, minimize stress, and realize your dreams!