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Take time to smell the roses

Dec 22, 2016 10:47AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

by John Masus

In early summer my wife had planted a new climbing rose along our fence line. That same day we saw a mother rabbit and her young roaming the yard. She looked so cute with her little bunnies trailing after her. Unfortunately, Momma Bunny had a different agenda than we had when my wife planted the rose bush. By the next day Momma Bunny had stripped that rose bush to the point that we thought it would die. Time for preventative therapy. A quick trip to the store, a wire mesh strategically placed and the rose bush was saved. Something else may have helped but I’ll tell you about that later.

Planting roses in January?

There is something about a new year. A feel good spirit and new resolve. Here are some suggestions for new plantings (roses) as well as some preventative measures for the future.

• Always pay yourself first…Always…Save 10 to 15% of gross income through 401k or other types of qualified payroll deduction programs, IRAs, Roth accounts or regular savings/investment accounts. A 2016 Economic Policy Institute report states that nearly 50% of all Americans don’t have a penny saved for retirement. Ouch!

• Never leave a 401k match on the table. It’s free money.

• For your own protection, have an emergency fund of at least six months expenses.

• Distinguish between needs and wants. We are bombarded with advertising telling us what we need and pretty soon we actually start believing this nonsense. Our needs are basic. Food, shelter, clothing, health care, transportation, etc. Our wants are the next step and they fall within our ability to pay for them since they are optional. That’s ok; we just need to know the difference.

• Make sure you are adequately insured. This is based on individual circumstances. It is the foundation of a healthy financial house and it should be well thought out.

• When purchasing a car, debt and payments should not outlast the car.

• Leasing a car takes control out of your hands and places it with the leasing company. It’s important to know that.

• Student debt, $1.3 trillion and counting,* should be analyzed in relationship to the field of study and the estimated average income expected. This kind of debt should only be used for college expenses since the debt could be part of your future for a long time. Be very, very careful.

• Investing in the stock market is generally a long range strategy of at least five or more years. If you need the money sooner, something safer such as a CD or passbook savings may be best. When the return of the investment is more important than the return on the investment, this may be the right strategy.

• If financed properly, home ownership is good. A 30 yr. fixed rate is the safest and the most predictable payment. To shorten it you can make additional payments at your convenience. You are in control.

• Having your home paid off at retirement is a good thing. Those additional payments add up in your favor.

• Excessive credit card debt can be destructive. It’s excessive if you even have to think about making minimum payments. It’s best to pay it off each month and stay in control of your finances.

• Borrowing more money to make it look like you have more money is called “Keeping up with the Jones’s” Not only is it illogical, but the Jones’s may be trying to keep up with you. Besides, a good night’s sleep and no debt are better than keeping up with anyone.

So what was that other thing I mentioned at the top of the article that may have helped the rose bush survive the rabbits? Well it may have been when the hawks showed up. Because they did.

*Consumer Reports—August 2016

* The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

John Masus is an LPL registered principal with clients in 24 states. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Masus Financial Group, Ltd. is a Registered Investment Advisor and a separate entity from LPL.Financial.

Masus Financial Grp.,Ltd. has been located in downtown Batavia for over 23 years.

Email address John.Masus@lpl.com

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