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Financial planning can seem overwhelming even if you feel like you have a handle on your finances. Are you on the right track? Are you saving enough? A written financial plan is a good place to start, but before you do, consider the main areas of your plan and give serious thought to how you would address each. Following are categories to start with:

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When you have existing debt and continue to accumulate it, saving for the future is like shoveling snow in a snowstorm; it's almost impossible to get ahead. First, take a hard look at your existing debt, and take proactive steps to whittle away at it. Once you eliminate your debt, you can save more for the future. Download the Reducing Dependency on Debt Fact Sheet for steps to get started.

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Saving 3-6 months of your annual income in a Savings Account is an important safety net for unexpected emergencies. At Community Bank you can open a separate Savings Account for this fund and nickname it "Emergency" to remind you it is only to be used in the event of a true emergency.

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Saving for college is something you can start as soon as your child is born. Whether your child is small or college-bound, it's never too late to start. Read Financing Your Child's College Education for detailed information and handy calculators.

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It's never too early to start saving for your retirement. If you are young and just starting your career, time is on your side. Service members have Thrift Savings Plan options (traditional or Roth) to help you get on track. Deployed Service members can also participate in the Savings Deposit Program and earn a healthy 10% on deployment pay investments.

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Life insurance can provide financial stability to a family that experiences tragedy. The government offers low-cost life insurance to Service members and veterans that can help cover your family's finances for their future. Read about Veterans Group Life Insurance to learn about how military life insurance works, and available options.

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These days retirement is seen as a chance to learn new skills, travel, and even reinvent yourself. Even with the retirement benefits from the military, you may need extra funds to enjoy the lifestyle you want. Whether you're beginning to save for retirement or are ready to retire, Community Bank wants your golden years to be as enjoyable as possible. Use our online Net-Worth Calculator to help you assess your finances.

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Smart investing allows you to maximize your savings. Here are some tips1 to help you get started:

  • Start investing in small amounts. As you become comfortable with the investment process, increase the amount you invest.
  • Identify financial goals you would like to achieve with investments and develop a plan to achieve them.
  • Many investments can't be readily converted into cash or there is a financial penalty to do so. Keep some of your savings in an account you can readily access in an emergency.
  • Keep your investments diversified. Most investors have their funds in some combination of higher and lower risk investments. Only take on the level of risk you are comfortable with.
  • Regularly monitor your investments. While it's generally best to hold on to investments over the long term rather than constantly shift money around trying to beat the market, changing market conditions sometimes dictate the need to reconsider an investment.

1 Community Bank does not provide investment and/or tax advice. Consult with your financial advisor or professional regarding your specific situation.

Retirement Financial Toolkit icon

Retirement Financial Toolkit

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Below are resources about financial planning at various stages throughout your career and into retirement. The following articles and resources provide general guidance as well as strategies you can use when creating your plan.

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Now that you have read about the various strategies for creating a solid financial plan and preparing for retirement, it's time to apply what you've learned:

Using the 5 categories below, list action steps to reach your goals. If you are married, create this plan with your spouse and make sure all steps are actionable and scheduled with a specific date. Use applicable calculators to help you define the amount as necessary:

  • Reduce your debt
  • Build your emergency fund
  • Save for college
  • Save for retirement
  • Provide for your family in the event of death

Once your written plan is complete, pick a target date for reviewing your progress and mark this important date on your calendar. Consider a monthly review for the first 6 months to make sure your spending and saving habits are working.

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  • After 6 months of realizing success with your plan, begin reviewing every 3 months instead.
  • Identify where you've been successful and where you can improve. In your successful areas, take your plan to the next level. For example, if you have saved $25 each month for an emergency fund, consider increasing your monthly saving to $40.
  • Where you have been less than successful, think about why your efforts have not been effective.
    • If you missed your goal, think about ways to be more disciplined.
    • Did you overestimate your savings goal?
    • If your issue is budget related, it's time to refocus the amount you can actually allocate to that category.
  • Combining good money management habits with routine plan assessments will put you on the right road toward future financial health.