Financial Planning is a task one can tackle while cooped up in quarantine- here are 5 financial tips for Federal Employees from Serving Those Who Serve’s Wes Battle
“I don’t have enough time” How many times have we used that to explain why we haven’t taken action on our personal financial planning? We hear it all the time, and I have to admit I have also used that excuse. However, let’s make a change and take advantage of this time at home we’ve been given. If I can make time to do review these 5 items, with a newborn and a 2year old at home now, you can too. And I am here to help you!
- Update your Will – When was the last time you updated your wills? Do you have grown children now? Have you been married or separated? Now is a great time to blow the dust off of these documents and make sure the directives are still in line with your wishes. If you do not currently have a will there are some software packages available you can purchase or download that will help you get SOMETHING in place. While we would recommend seeing a professional, this exercise will help get your thoughts in order before you see an attorney for official documents.
- Create SSA.gov account – You may have noticed you no longer get statements from Social security routinely, the agency is encouraging folks to go online and download their statements there. When reviewing your estimate, you want to look for gaps in pay history and the correct amount reported for the year. For example, a client of mine switched agencies for 4 years and because of a clerical error those earnings were not reported to SSA during that time. In our review, we were able to get those corrected which pushed her estimated benefit amount higher.
- Stop Looking at your TSP balance – To quote the great Peter Lynch “”Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves.” Stop messing around with your account! The hard thing about investing is that we have emotions and emotions are powerful. If you feel like you need to do something then consult your advisor, or us, to help make guided decisions during these times. And last plug here – if your advisor is recommending major shifts in your retirement account – why didn’t they have you in the proper allocation BEFORE this volatility? Investment management should not be reactive.
- Learn about FEHB & Medicare – Health insurance is going to be one of your highest costs in retirement. As a Fed you should consider yourself lucky you can carry FEHB into retirement as long as you meet the qualifications, however, you may need or want parts of Medicare as well. OPM has a fantastic pamphlet on their site that goes over the basics of how the 2 programs work together. It can be found here.
- Start healthy habits – In James Clear’s Atomic Habits he gives you a step by step process on how to create new habits and keep them. For example, if you wanted to start an exercise routine, begin with 10mins a day, not 90mins. Same Idea with eating healthier, don’t swear off everything besides only eating chicken and vegetables, but start with 1 Oreo instead of the whole row. While we’ve all hear that we have to make SMART goals, Clear does a great job presenting information to empower the reader. I would recommend reading the book.Stay safe and remember it’s your FedLife make it a great one.
Wes Battle CFP®, AIF®, ChFEBC™ is a senior financial planner with Serving Those Who Serve who specializes in working with the Senior Executive service of the Federal Government. Wes provides retirement services to and seminar speaking to Federal Agencies. To connect with Wes you can find him online or at [email protected]
Financial Tips for Quarantine