Many of us have been taught the value of saving for a rainy day, to be frugal and forgo personal pleasures and material wants. The Baby Boomers, whose parents and grandparents came of age during the Great Depression and fought a World War, are particularly prone to denying themselves. In many ways, it’s an admirable conviction, but those individuals who have plenty of money to prepare for the worst often can afford to live it up a little, to spend some of that hard-earned money on a golf club membership, a European trip, or a Florida beach vacation home. You can strike a balance between responsibility and fun by taking a few well-considered actions.
Rainy day fund
Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into a savings account, money that will build up and give you an emergency fund for the unexpected. Make sure the amount to be transferred each month is one you can handle, and don’t start with too high an amount so you can gradually increase the amount over time. Financial consultants generally recommend having at least three months of savings set aside for emergencies. Whatever you can afford at first is better than nothing, so transfer what you can now to get the ball rolling.
Get your ducks in a row
If the worst were to happen and your family were left without you, would they receive your estate assets as per your wishes? That could well happen unless you’ve signed the key documents that make it all legal, and have named all the individuals you’d intended as beneficiaries and update your will if necessary. Establish a financial and medical power of attorney to ensure your wishes are carried out. Some people also opt to cover funeral expenses to take the financial burden off their family when they die. These types of policies are easier to qualify for than regular life insurance.
Projections are that most Americans age 65 and older will require some form of long-term care later in life. There are many ways to save for the necessity. However, people overlook the possibility of funding long-term care by selling a life insurance policy. If you qualify, you can sell a policy for an immediate cash payout. It can be a good way to free up cash for costly care needs.
Spending responsibly when you want to have some fun is also a good way to remain frugal. For example, when planning a vacation, go by car rather than booking an expensive flight or taking a cruise. Select a destination that’s within four or five hours of home so you can leave right after work and arrive that evening. You might be surprised at how much fun there is to be had within driving distance of home.
Many people enjoy buying new clothes, spending exorbitant amounts at mall stores or high-priced boutiques. It’s an especially wasteful habit if you only wear the clothes a handful of times before throwing them out. Instead, discover the joys of consignment shopping, where you can find designer brands at a fraction of the price you’d pay at the retail stores.
It’s natural and commendable that Baby Boomers should want to be prepared for the worst, should it ever happen. But, you’ve earned the right to enjoy yourself and spend a little of that money you’ve worked so hard for. You can achieve a balance between fun and frugality by using the same good sense that’s served you so well throughout a successful business career.