It’s officially April which means tax time is around the corner along with the warm rays of summer. Given that an important election is on the horizon and the economy is still unstable, now might be the perfect time to give more consideration to how you are planning for your and your family’s future.

Although it’s tempting to continue giving into the consumer-driven trends of today’s society, our team’s best advice centers around focusing on what is most important, cutting down on expenses, and putting a solid foundation in place to continue building off while the country weathers this economic storm.

1. Focus on what is most important.

First is the task of focusing on what is important. That flat-screen TV or new car might seem as if they are calling your name, but chances are you can probably keep enjoying television on an existing screen or don’t need to upgrade your vehicle for the sake of “keeping up with the Joneses”. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that life is unpredictable, and to adapt, we must be resourceful. With record inflation and increasing housing costs, it’s best to prioritize “needs” over “wants”. Not sure how to differentiate the two? Click here for an excellent article on identifying true needs versus desires.

2. Downgrade and cut expenses

If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you’ve probably noticed how nearly everything is more expensive. As a result, cutting down on expenses isn’t just for those who want to practice frugality. At this time in history, it is an essential practice for most American families who are feeling the strain of inflation and the devaluation of the dollar.

To trim your monthly expenses, try the following:

  • Shop around for better-priced home and auto insurance.
  • Review your monthly budget vs actual spending to identify what areas you need to be more disciplined with so you can work on spending less.
  • Review all subscriptions that you currently have using an app such as RocketMoney. You might be spending $50-$100 extra for services you rarely use simply because you haven’t checked.
  • Find ways to have fun as a family that doesn’t cost much (if any) money:
    • Take a trip to the park.
    • Drive around your beautiful city or state and discuss historical architecture.
    • Volunteer!
    • Read a book and/or encourage your family to read together.
    • Get active and go bike riding or take a walk.
  • Cook at home more often to lessen your food bill.
  • Buy popular household foods in bulk.
  • Rather than throw out household items, learn how to repair them or take them to a repair shop which is often less costly than purchasing new.

3. Put a solid financial foundation in place.

Budgeting and shopping for new insurance isn’t enough to really get ahead financially. While these are cornerstones of good financial hygiene, it’s important to consider the four pillars of foundational planning: debt elimination, estate planning, guaranteed retirement planning, and long-term care.

By understanding the importance of each pillar, you can learn the common pitfalls that cause most people to stay in the cycle of debt, failing to save enough for retirement, asset protection, or long-term care expenses.

At Black Hills Financial Planning, we take the time to freely educate our clients on how to navigate the oftentimes complex financial world so that they can eliminate debt early on (and create a family bank that provides tax benefits), protect their assets from litigation and probate, plan for a retirement they love, and ensure enough money is set aside for medical expenses later in life. It’s not difficult but it is life-changing for those who take the time to learn.

When you are ready to take a step forward in your financial planning journey, know that we are here to support you every step of the way.

The Black Hills Financial Planning Team