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Being financially secure can seem like a lofty goal when you are young, but putting the right arrangements in place can make it happen. If you focus too much on making your first big purchases and necessary monthly payments, it can be hard to think about the long-term future. However, working toward financial freedom and security can help relieve stress, bringing both short- and long-term joy. Check out some advice for the important facets of financia security that require a little extra forethought and effort.

1. Life Insurance

Insurance is the definition of planning ahead. This expense will ensure that your dependents are protected when you are no longer there to look out for them. While it may not seem like the most exciting way to spend your money, it can be one of the smartest financial moves you can make for your family. You can use your assets, income, age, marital status, dependents, health and debts to calculate exactly how much life insurance you need. The early bird gets the worm with this one, since life insurance is much more inexpensive to buy when you’re younger. It may not save you thousands, but it can help you family save thousands by doing some of the basics like covering funeral costs to some of the most expensive bills like paying your mortgage after you pass away.

2. Retirement Savings

Saving for post-work life can seem especially cumbersome and like a low priority, but even a little bit out of your monthly paycheck now adds up to a more financially secure retirement down the line. Your retirement needs will depend upon whether you fantasize about international adventure, simple living or beachside relaxation. Whatever your retirement vision, you don’t want to leave yourself underfunded so you have to go into debt. It’s a good idea to determine how much you have saved thus far, how many years until you plan to retire, and how much of your income you will want to replace. Then, get to work making sure you get the most out of your employer-sponsored plan (especially if your company offers matching contributions) and consider building up an individual retirement account simultaneously. Saving now can mean big returns down the road, as compounding interest makes easy work for early planners.

3. Education

We have all heard how expensive higher education has become in recent years, but instead of intimidating you, it’s a good idea to let it motivate you. If you plan to attend college or grad school or fund a child’s higher education, it’s a good idea to get to work on saving so you can minimize student loans for the future. You can use tax-advantaged accounts like a 529 plan to stretch your efforts even further. Also, this is a good time to work on your credit, and here’s why. Improving your credit takes time, and if you know you have a bad credit score, but start well in advance of when you need to borrow money (i.e. buying a new car, shopping for a mortgage or taking out private student loans for school) you can see a bigger score improvement by the time your credit score comes into play. You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com to see where you stand and put an action plan in place for improving them. (Here’s a guide to understanding your credit score range and what qualifies as a “good” credit score.)

4. Emergency Fund

In addition to the large goals, it’s important to have some extra money set aside in case of an emergency. Before you work on that vacation or buy the newest tech innovation, experts recommend you have three to nine months’ savings to cover your living expenses in the event of temporary income loss or health issue not covered by insurance. Where and how you save for this will depend on your willingness to sacrifice today for security tomorrow, but can make a big difference in how long accomplishments will take. For example, if every time an unexpected expense comes up, you have to dip into your home down payment fund, it will take a long time to ever have enough to buy a home. Or, if you have to max out

No matter what your specific savings objectives are, the earlier you begin thinking, planning and saving, the more likely it is that you will reach them. So set the goals, follow your plans to make them happen and enjoy your ride to complete financial security.

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