Want to know where you stand, financially? The money blog The Exchange recently talked to a bunch of certified financial planners, and came up with a list of “benchmarks” we can all use to measure our financial health. And these are the top signs that you’re on the right track:
First: No matter how old you are, you’re saving MORE than you did 10 years ago. Experts say a lot of baby boomers are in trouble today, because even though they’re in their peak earning years, they’re still saving like they did in their 20s! That’s because every time they got a promotion at work, they increased their lifestyle – not their savings. Meaning they bought a bigger car, or moved into a bigger house. The problem is that unless you’re putting more into savings each time you get a raise, you won’t have enough money to live your current lifestyle after retirement. So, how much SHOULD you save? Most experts agree that by age 35, you should have at least one year’s salary put away in the bank. Then after that, you should put away at least 10-percent of your income each year.
Another sign that you’re on the right track, financially: You NEVER have more than one car payment. In fact, experts say the smartest savers put away money every month in a “car replacement” account. That way, if your car breaks down, you can just buy another one – without making any payments. The thinking is that if all your money is tied up in car payments, then you’ll be caught off guard if an unexpected medical expense comes up, or you lose your job.
And by the way, experts say COUPLES are on the right track financially if TWO of you can survive on ONE paycheck. That means you can pay your mortgage, cellphone bill, insurance payments, and child care, for example. Then, your second paycheck should only be used for “extras” – like paying for dinners out, vacations, and building up savings.