Striving for financial independence


By Joe Betcher

Times are hectic. This isn’t news. The U.S. government is ideologically divided, and the country remains in limbo as the pendulum swings back and forth. For families and businesses, it has become extremely difficult to anticipate the future and plan.

The number of unemployed people is over 11 million. The Affordable Care Act fiasco has companies tightening their budgets and planning for additional cuts. With so many variables, financial planning can be a nightmare.

For some companies, there has been a huge paradigm shift. Businesses may no longer offer pension plans to employees. In fact, to reduce costs, some companies are offering lump sum pension buyouts to thousands of their salaried retirees.

Retirees are stressed and overwhelmed with the daunting decision of determining whether to take the lump sum or to continue receiving the monthly pension payment. Many of the retirees worked for many years and remained loyal to the companies because of the long-term pensions offered.

Unlike the monthly pension payment, retirees fear the lump sum may not sustain them for the rest of their lives. The most important question retirees needs to ask themselves is whether they prefer to have ownership of their own finances or whether they want to continue to have a third-party company manage them.

Now, more than ever, people need to do more planning on their own instead of relying on their employers to take care of them. Many people rely upon a company’s group benefits, but this is typically the first thing to be cut if the company needs to tighten the budget. Businesses also need to ensure they are financially stable enough to survive the highs and lows. The bottom line is that both need to do everything in their power to ensure every penny is counted and protected.

Those who are fortunate enough to have a job with benefits still need to be reviewing their financial profiles regularly to ensure the financial structure aligns with their personal financial goals. Additionally, if a career change is planned, it’s important for that person to know their financial options. Many people mistakenly leave their 401(k) behind. Why would a person leave money behind at a place where they are no longer employed? Rolling a 401(k) into an IRA has several advantages.

Understanding financial options is overwhelming and confusing enough without the ups and downs of the current economic conditions. With the political and economic climate constantly changing, it’s necessary to frequently evaluate. By allowing a financial advisor to review your current situation and help you get a plan in place, you can begin to take control of your own financial destiny and secure your future.