top of page

[My Thoughts] To be secure, you need to be prepared.

This column is the third in a series of lessons learned and insights about how to balance the need for security with the ability to live exuberant lives with confidence and freedom.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Rodney Brooks, Washington Post columnist, compiled a financial preparation list from financial advisers and retirement experts he consulted:

Do a budget. It’s important to know where money is coming from and where it’s going.

Make extra payments on your mortgage and car. If you are 55 and worried about losing your job at 60, make additional mortgage payments. Try to pay your house off in seven years so when you are without work, that biggest budget item is no longer a worry.

The more debt you can shed, the better off you will be. If you currently have two incomes in your family, ask yourself where you would be if you suddenly had only one.

Boost your emergency savings. Pay yourself first and try to build up six months of cash reserve. If you can contribute to a Roth IRA do so. Principal dollars can be pulled out at any time after you reach 59, so it is a good emergency pool.

Have a plan. One counselor had clients with a long-term plan to move to Arizona upon retirement. Then the husband suddenly lost his job. They re-evaluated what Social Security would be, what their pension would provide, what they could sell their home for, and what their dream house in Arizona would cost. It turned out they could go right now. Because they had been planning for years, the sudden loss of his job did not derail their dreams.