It’s never too early (or late) to start saving money for the future, says Doug Lehman, a financial advisor at Edward Jones in Beckley.
Lehman says you can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for saving and investing money, as everybody is different and has different goals.
“The most important thing is figuring out what’s important to them,” he said. “Figuring out where they want to go and how fast they want to travel to get there.”
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IN HIGH SCHOOL
Parents should talk with their kids about the importance of saving money as early as possible, according to Lehman.
He says getting them in the mindset of saving money in their youth will be one less thing they have to worry about when they’re older.
Buying a car or motorcycle or saving for college is what most teens are bearing in mind.
“With a high school person, retirement is 40 years away so they’re not thinking about retirement yet,” he said.
“I love talking with high schoolers. A lot of times, I tell them starting out it might be their first $1,000 they’re just putting in a good money market and getting a cushion.”
Working teens characteristically don’t have a ton of disposable income. However, as little as $25 a week or month can make a difference to getting them in the habit of savings, Lehman says.
“I want you to get the same habits as your grandmother did where she always had money in the cookie jar and never spent more than she made.”
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College kids can be the riskiest with their money.
Lehman stresses the importance of encouraging this age group to spend less and save more before they get themselves in hot water financially.
“It’s so tempting, especially for our college-aged kids, to get caught up in spending and in all kinds of credit card debt,” he said.
“From college and younger, it’s about teaching them how to be financially responsible and financially successful. It’s not a sprint — it’s a marathon in building your wealth slowly and steadily.”
Most college kids are thinking about how they’re going to relocate for a job after college, buy their first home or pay for a wedding.
Lehman’s goal is to help kids come up with a financial plan on how to live without mom and dad’s help after college.
“If it’s a short-term goal, we’ll be more conservative,” he said.
He also says he is a big advocate for financial guru Dave Ramsey’s advice that everyone should save a $1,000 emergency fund – even college students.
“Something will go wrong,” he said. “Let’s make sure we have that $1,000. After that, we might buy something that’s an income fund that might be paying 4 percent right now.”
When it comes to investing, it goes back to what a person’s short- and long-term goals are.
“Do you like to drive fast? If so, here’s a fund that goes a little faster, but you might get a speeding ticket with it,” he said.
“I tell most people in their 20s I don’t know what social security is going to be in your 60s, so let social security be the icing on the cake, not the main course,” he said.
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IN YOUR 30s
Most 30-somethings have multiple goals in mind.
Saving for a new house and putting aside money for your children’s college education are both important. However, retirement should also be a high priority, according to Edward Jones.
By the time you reach your 30s, “you better be saving for your retirement,” says Lehman.
It’s all about choosing the appropriate tools and keeping in mind that you’re approaching the 30-year mark to retirement.
In this age group, individuals should consider if they need to save more, spend less or work longer, according to Lehman.
He says many 30-somethings are considering saving for their children’s college future. However, he encourages parents to have a goal of saving only half of what they’re going to need.
“Let them (the kids) put skin in the game and save for part of it,” he said.
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50s AND BEYOND
By this time, most people typically have kids out of the house and have reached their peak income, Lehman says.
“This is when I’m encouraging people to max out their 401(k)s and take advantage of any matching their work might give them and fully fund their Roth IRAs,” he said.
It’s also a time to look at the “what ifs,” he says.
“Early on, a financial planner might look at what do I need to do to protect myself in case I need nursing home care or how to protect my family if I die early,” he said.
He says it’s also a good idea to have money put aside to protect your spouse and children.
“When you get into your 50s, people can live up to 30 years on retirement,” he explained. “You have to have enough growth in your portfolio that you get a raise and the appropriate amount of risk.”
Having a “rock solid” financial plan is key at this age, according to Lehman. It’s also the time to choose less risky investments.
“Normally as we get older, we make our portfolios a little more conservative as we don’t have time to absorb the short-term hits,” Lehman said.
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When it comes to investing, Edward Jones tells its clients they need to consider three things when they invest: goals, how comfortable they are with risk and when they’ll need money.
“As a long-term investor, it’s important to develop a strategy and stick with it,” Lehman said.
Lehman says a piggy bank that sits on a desk in his office offers the best advice he can give the public.
It has four different slots in it for coins, he explained. One is for saving money, one for investing, one for the money you’re willing to spend and the last is for the money you want to give away or donate.
“You need all four to be a complete person,” Lehman explained. “You save money for short-term goals and you invest money for long-term goals.”
Lehman has been in the industry for more than 30 years. He says he can’t emphasize enough that everybody is different when it comes to what they should do with their money.
A 30-something and a retiree are going to have two very different road maps for saving and investing.
“You don’t use the same golf club for every shot,” he said. “You use different clubs for each shot you take on the same course. Same thing here.”
Doug Lehman is a financial advisor at Edward Jones at 269 Market Road in Beckley.
For more information, call 304-253-7535.