Any rock climber knows to set a “lock-in-a-rock” to help prevent the climber from falling too far below the terrain the climber has already scaled. It’s as much a safety measure as a way to lock in conquered terrain.
Climbing is similar to investing: you don’t want to give up what you’ve already conquered. The more success you “lock in”, the more financial stability may also be locked in.
Let’s make some distinctions. Having a paycheck generally means having financial stability. But having financial security means you’re covered even if you don’t have a paycheck–it’s that financial lock-in-a-rock that prevents you from a financial fall.
What are some financial “locks-in-a-rock” you can use to help achieve financial security? To help you pursue your financial goals? That reflect your financial priorities?
Insurance is the traditional way to manage risks, including (indirectly) your paycheck, your life, a disability (short or long term), your business agreements with an equity partner, and other risks. Insurance provides financial relief if an unlikely event occurs. It can help ensure a quick return to financial stability, if that is lost.
What’s a “buffer”? A buffer covers market downside risk. It’s generally used with annuities, a type of life insurance company product that can be for accumulating wealth or for setting up lower risk income.
The buffer is an added cost but is in exchange for partial or full downside market coverage, perhaps saving you from losses far greater than the cost of the buffer. Sometimes called the “zero is the hero” feature, buffers allow for upside while covering your downside. The appealing benefits of this relatively new feature are making buffers increasingly popular.
Insurance and buffers are some variations of financial “locks-in-a-rock” consumers can use to help them keep the financial terrain they’ve already scaled. They provide tomorrow’s financial stability by protecting what you’ve gained during your mid-career working years so you can use it in your retirement years (as retirement income, for example).
Without buffers and insurance, many Americans would risk falling (from a market downturn), lose investment ground, and have to reconquer the same investment terrain. That could mean lost years of upside just to get back to where you were.
Budgets: The Strategy to Take Control
Households use budgets to understand their income and expenses. That helps people manage yearly savings goals, retirement savings, and to help ensure their financial priorities are reflected in how they spend their money. Budgets help to maintain financial control and stability because you’re more likely to know what money is coming in and going out.
Of course, to apply what you’ve gained in mid-career toward your later years takes financial planning. A financial plan is a lifetime game plan for your money.
Major Expense vs. Major Market Downturn
Many people keep an emergency fund just in case they incur a major expense; they need a new roof, they lose a job, they become disabled or have a medical need, or incur any other potential expense that would otherwise cause the individual or household financial damage. Isn’t an emergency fund just another type of financial “lock-in-a-rock”? Emergency funds are usually 3-6 months of household expenses.
A market downturn is akin to a major expense. Financial ground that was gained is lost. The individual’s financial position is degraded. Goals (retirement, college) are farther away. Investments often have built-in strategies that lower the risk level as the individual gets closer to the time they need their money.
No one wants to fall from a financial cliff. Get the “locks-in-rocks” that fit your financial needs/