By Taylor Schulte
With the nation’s most recognizable pop culture convention fast approaching, thousands of event-goers will be gearing up as their favorite character and converging on San Diego. From Avengers to Zombies, superheroes will be roaming the streets of our city this week, in search of heroic deeds and world domination.
To commemorate the popular annual event and help address the nation’s staggering financial concerns — the continued lack of emergency savings and retirement planning, to name a few — we’ve compiled our own superhero list for personal financial supremacy. From the Green Planner to the Fee Assassin, turning into one or all of these superheroes can help you build a successful financial life.
And while Comic-Con’s characters are mostly limited to the four-day event, any of the superheroes below can and should make their appearance all year-round.
The Green Planner. One of the best (and first) things one can do in building financial success is to identify goals and create a plan. While the specifics may change over the years, the overarching goal and the commitment to financial health should remain consistent. So, consider the end-game. Are you looking to accumulate wealth, put your child through college or plan for retirement? Or, like Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, have you already built a successful empire, and are looking to wisely spend your funds in retirement? Once the goal is identified, create a plan to get there.
And don’t forget, while many superheroes are indestructible, most of us are not. Having an estate plan, inclusive of insurance protection needs, helps protect assets as well as loved ones.
The Super Saver. Savings are an essential component of any fiscal plan and the sooner you start saving, the more time you have to build a healthy life and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Automating a savings plan is one of the best ways to succeed in saving. Manually logging into your bank account to transfer funds into savings weekly or monthly creates added work and an opportunity to fail. I recommend working with a bank or financial planner to automate a savings plan. Opt for ‘Turtle Power’ and start out slow, with a small amount. Increase the contribution as you get more comfortable with the process.
Doctor Budget (Fee Assassin). A set budget offers a benchmark for incoming revenues and outgoing expenses, helping you gain control over finances. By continuously reviewing spending, one can easily identify opportunities to reduce fees or cut expenses altogether. Maybe you don’t need the premium cable channels or the highest speed of Internet. Cutting those costs are a quick and easy way to find dollars to reinvest into a savings plan.
The Amazing Investor. When it comes to investments, it’s best to start early, keep investment costs and expenses low, and diversify. For instance, consider utilizing low-cost, broad-based index funds in your portfolio to diversify and reduce investment expenses, and mitigate tax consequences. Reducing costs is often an overlooked method of increasing long-term returns in a portfolio. As with savings, it’s a good idea to automate an investment program, starting with a small amount.
Captain Commitment. Regardless of which financial superpowers you excel in, there’s nothing more important than drive, focus and commitment. Consider your overall plan. While having an investment strategy and retirement plan in place is great, you can maximize your financial health by reducing fees and taxes, saving more of your paycheck and optimizing your charitable contributions. Also, make sure to run an ongoing progress report. A weekly, monthly or even bi-annual financial checkup will help ensure you plan is on track, and you’re making strides in the right direction.
And don’t forget, with great power, comes great responsibility. Wear your financial superhero mask or cape with pride and opt for financial domination. Up, up and away!
Taylor Schulte, a Certified Financial Planner, is the founder and CEO of Define Financial in downtown San Diego. He specializes in helping individuals, families and small businesses achieve their financial goals.
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