Am I saving enough?
The sooner you start saving, the less you have to put away each month to reach your goals — that’s the potential power of time combined with compounding. Make sure you have an overall savings plan that includes any employer-sponsored retirement accounts and other savings goals.
"I always suggest you shoot for saving 10% as a minimum," Mark LaSpisa, a financial planner in South Barrington, IL, says of retirement-savings vehicles like a 401(k). This rate will, in most cases, be more than enough to maximize any employer matching you’re eligible for. "If you wish to be comfortable in retirement, you need to have a plan to move [your] savings rate up to 20%," LaSpisa says. "This may mean adding 1% to your savings rate every time you get a pay raise."
Am I paying off my debt the right way?
On average, Americans under age 35 owe $67,400 in debt, according to a recent report by Money Magazine. Americans’ debt load peaks between the ages 45 and 54, averaging $134,600, the report says, while those 75 and older average $34,500 in debt. That includes mortgages, student loans, credit card debt and vehicle loans. Consider consulting an advisor about the spread of your debt and what an aggressive, yet realistic, pay-down plan would look like.
How’s my credit?
Credit history affects a variety of things, including your eligibility to secure loans and the interest rates credit issuers may offer you. You can check your credit score through banks and online services without harming it, but simply knowing your score isn’t enough. Ask an advisor how your score looks against your long-term financial goals, and how to improve it if needed. Do a little digging to learn about what credit is, why it matters and ways to potentially improve your score.
How should I keep track of my spending?
If you aren’t budgeting in a way that works, now’s the time to get a handle on your cash flow. An advisor can help you devise a tracking system or point you to digital tools that can assist. "It's my number one recommendation," LaSpisa says.