By Drew Hefflefinger, CFP®
Pilots have a rule of thumb called the “1-in-60 rule”. Although it has various uses, the ratio’s primary use is navigational. It states, if a pilot travels sixty miles and is just one degree off course, then the pilot can expect to be one mile away from their targeted destination. Multiply this by hundreds and even thousands of miles and we can see just how critical a single degree of error can be. To be a successful navigator of the skies takes tremendous attention to detail.
With our finances, it is no different. Although not considered an error, (that would be too harsh) families often leave saving opportunities on the table which require more effort to reach their financial destinations. What I want to do is share some ideas that can help readers save towards big goals without having to give too much up in return.
For the example we are going to use a target monthly savings of $285 per month. I use this number to highlight two common goals, college savings and retirement income. Should a family save $285 per month from the birth of their child to when they turn eighteen they can expect a future dollar value of about $100,000, a respectable college saving goal. Longer term, $285 per month over the course of a thirty-two year career could result in a future dollar value of about $330,000, which translates into a retirement income stream of about $1,000 per month.
So how do you get there? You can go the hard way and cut out a lot of things you love to do, you could ignore the opportunity, or you can get smart and get there the easy way. The remainder of this article is going to share examples of how to make it happen the easy way.
Like the experienced pilot who is seldom off course, we want to pay close attention to the details. All too often we either pay for things we do not need, or we pay too much for them. Below are considerations that can help you save and achieve big goals.
- Mortgage: Have a mortgage consultant see if what you are paying today is competitive. As of this writing, interest rates are at historical lows, and now has never been a better time for this type of review. A $400,000, 30-year mortgage at 4.25% is $1,967.76 per month. At 4.00%, just 0.25% lower, the payment drops to $1,909.66, a difference of $58.10 per month.
- Insurance: Home, auto, and umbrella: almost all of us need it, pay for it, and rarely shop it around. Contact an independent insurance broker and have them do the shopping for you. I recently referred a client to a local broker and saved her $500 per year and it only took her about 20 minutes. Yes, more time than GEICO, but at least the broker was on her side of the table with her best interests in mind. That is $41.66 per month.
- Stop paying for products and services you do not value: Guilty myself, we spend money on silly things we do not value. I recently wrote an article titled, “How to Save Money and Get What You Want”. The article outlines how to review your budget in a healthy and productive manner and identify spending that has little value to you. I recommend everyone do this exercise at least once per year. By performing the exercise I am confident many readers could save $80 per month by just completing the exercise once.
- Acorns: Acorns is a web application that rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and saves the ‘round-up’ in a separate account. If I bought something for $3.60, then 40 cents would be deposited into the savings account (thus rounding up to $4.00). Assuming three transactions per day and a remainder of 40 cents per transaction equals $36.60 per month. For more information visit www.acorns.com or download the app.
- Car: The car you drive, is it all worth it? Could you drive a car with slightly less features, slightly less performance? Next time you are due for a car consider the trade-offs against your important financial goals. I bet many could purchase or lease a car for $50 per month less than their original intent and still be happy at the end of the day.
- Subscription Review: Our world is turning into a subscription based economy, I even charge clients for my planning services through a subscription service. The gym, Spotify, wine clubs, clothing clubs, Amazon has an audio book service call Audible. There are so many subscriptions we can get excited about, pay for, use, and then forget, and nobody is going to turn them off unless you say so. So is their one subscription service you do not use anymore? I bet you could find one, and let us estimate the fee at $20 per month.
Adding up all the savings equals $286.36 per month. By directly applying these savings you just sent your new born to college, you just added an additional $1,000 per month to your retirement income. And what did you have to give up? Not really anything at all, you just got smarter.
|Expense Item Reviewed||Dollars Saved per Month|
|“How to Save Money and Get What you Want” Exercise||$80.00|
|www.acorns.com / App||$36.60|
|TOTAL SAVINGS PER MONTH||$286.36|
This is what financial planning in the growth stages of a career is all about. It is about developing strong, healthy and lasting habits. It is about chipping away at your future dreams and goals, but doing so in an intelligent and thoughtful manner by not completely sabotaging what is most important to you today.
Like the junior pilot, we can often get off course which is going to demand more time and effort to reach our destination. But we do not have to do that. By being mindful of these and other small details we have a higher likelihood of reaching our destination in the most efficient way possible.
If you are ready to uncover these opportunities in your own life and are looking for help, seek a financial planner who understands the value of these details and is willing to help you identify and implement a solution.
Drew Hefflefinger is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Engage in Wealth in Denver, Colorado. Drew specializes in working with legal professionals by helping them protect and grow wealth while achieving life goals. Drew can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.