Making thoughtful and informed decisions about your finances is more important than ever. Several trends are converging that demonstrate the importance of financial literacy:
- More and more, the burden of making sound financial decisions is coming to rest on the shoulders of consumers. Many companies have shifted their retirement plans from traditional pension plans to those requiring employees to participate in, pay part of the cost for, and make investment decisions about. 401(k) plans are the best example of this.
- Social Security used to be seen as a major source, if not the major source, of retirement income. Now it serves more like a safety net that will provide enough only for survival, not enjoyment.
- We are living longer. This means that we must have accumulated more funds before retirement to cover living expenses over a longer time. Otherwise, we could become a burden for our families.
- The financial environment seems like it is changing faster. Bull markets, bear markets, rising interest rates, falling interest rates and the increased number of finance-related articles with conflicting views in the press can make creating and following a financial path difficult.
- There are more financial options. Hundreds of credit card options, several types of mortgages, different types of IRAs, and the ever-growing number of investment options further complicate financial decision making.
- There are more choices of financial services companies. Banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, insurance firms, credit card companies, mortgage companies, financial planners and others are all trying to get your business.
- The numbers themselves seem to have gotten larger. Costs and wages have generally continued to rise to the point where having an income or retirement nest egg that several years ago would have seemed luxurious, now just seems barely adequate.