Recently it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that “with unemployment low and the stock market near record highs, Americans are feeling more financially secure these days.” The article went on to mention that a new financial survey revealed “that some of that confidence is misplaced.”
I totally agree that this confidence could very well be misplaced. We have a real problem with financial literacy in America and this lack of knowledge is potentially dangerous to the financial future of many Americans. One recent survey quoted in the same Wall Street Journal article showed 92% of those surveyed could not even pass a simple financial literacy test.
Financial security is about much more than just how you feel about your job or your investment portfolio. It is about making smart decisions about your money. It is about doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time. Choosing when to take Social Security is a big one that causes many to miss the mark, usually due to lack of knowledge. What to do with a 401(k) or other retirement plan when leaving one job and going to another often snags many into inappropriate decisions. Getting all the financial issues in your life is great, but what happens to your family if you haven’t prepared a well thought out estate plan?
Even if your financial life feels like it couldn’t be better, what happens if you have a serious health issue that requires long term care? How are you going to pay for that care? Many retirees mistakenly believe that Medicare will cover long term care costs. For the most part, this is simply not true. If a long term medical problem is in your future, do you have a plan for how you will deal with it financially?
The financial issues listed here are just the very tip of the iceberg of issues that will face many Americans as they live out their lives. While it may sound self-serving for me as a practicing financial professional, if you are not already seeking help from a qualified financial professional who is a fiduciary, now may be the time. Don’t allow the glow of a rising stock market or a good paying job lull you into a false sense of security. Make a plan now that serves you and your family so you can hopefully make your life dreams come true.