Today, I’m turning over the reins to a trusted colleague, Noah Estrin. He’s the president of Estrin Asset Management, based in Coral Springs. And he’s an excellent investment advisor.
Take it away, Noah!
I appreciate the introduction. I want to share some easy and manageable ways to get started on an investment plan.
To start, I help my clients gather a full understanding of their financial picture, including their budget, household income, expenses and any debt owed.
My goal is to help them create a position of strength before they start investing. That might sound counterintuitive. A lot of people think investments create financial security.
In fact, security results from a strong financial base. From there, we recommend investments to build into the future. But the whole tower could crumble without a sturdy foundation.
So that’s your first step.
Step 1: Create the foundation
Start by creating a buffer of emergency savings and paying down high-interest debt like credit cards.
Your initial goal should be to save one month worth of expenses. Add up your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, car payments, insurance and any other vital expenses your family needs. Your first financial goal is to save enough to cover this monthly need.
Once that’s completed, divide your extra income into two goals:
- Paying down credit cards
- Saving up three months of expenses (Yes, you’ll eventually triple your savings account)
Emergency savings and debt reduction is your foundation of strength. Now you can begin investing your extra cash flow.
Step 2: Craft your strategy
Your investment strategy will depend on your goals.
You may want to save for a down payment on a house in the near future. Or you might be looking further down the road to a college savings plan. Both require very different strategies.
Think of it like a vehicle. Some people need a rugged, four-wheel truck for big work projects. Others need a gas-efficient sedan for a long, daily commute.
Neither option is wrong as long as you clearly define your goals.
Many people have retirement as part of their goal. To that end, I have a few key recommendations.
A 401K is a good starter strategy
An employer-sponsored 401K plan is a powerful and convenient way to start investing. The contributions come directly out of your paycheck systematically, allowing investments to begin growing out of sight and out of mind. Work with the resources of your plan provider or ask an advisor for guidance to select suitable investments.
If the employer is matching your contributions, you have an even bigger opportunity to save. I usually recommend you contribute the maximum of what the employer is matching.
If you don’t, you’re basically leaving money on the table. You want to claim the full amount the employer is offering to invest on your behalf.
ROTH accounts provide flexibility
If you don’t have access to a 401K or are meeting the match already, I usually suggest a ROTH retirement account. For this advice, seek input from your certified public accountant to see if you are eligible since your income and taxes are heavily involved in this decision.
ROTH accounts are like the Swiss army knife of retirement plans. With these accounts, your retirement investments grow tax-free since you contribute with funds that have already been taxed.
This allows flexibility that many retirement funds do not. While tax penalties may apply for withdrawing earnings before age 59 ½, there are no penalties for withdrawing your contributions to purchase a house or if your life circumstances change before retirement. It can be available as a source of funds for many different goals.
And, if you are able to keep those funds invested, the compounding of interest growth is very powerful.
Of course, while this email provides a lot of basic advice, you should always seek tax and legal advice based on the full scope of your individual circumstances. New investors should ask questions about the costs, fees and risks associated with any investments.
If you don’t have a financial advisor, I’d be happy to provide direction. You can call my office at 954-769-1898 or email me directly.
Noah Estrin, Estrin Asset Management, Inc. 5421 N University Drive #101 Coral Springs, FL 33067 Securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc (RAA) Member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referred here are independent of RAA.