Get on the right path to a safe retirement

Lisa M. Leonard Tribune Correspondent

Brianna Henderson discovered her interest in finance while still in high school.

“I loved accounting,” she says, “but I also wish I had learned more about credit cards and compound interest when they’re not paid off.

Henderson, a purchasing coordinator for Royal Canin in Fremont, said she would have appreciated understanding taxes and the 401(k) savings plan before leaving high school.

She sees the importance of teaching children about money at a young age.

“I want my son to grow up understanding that money is earned, not given,” she said.

An avowed workaholic, Henderson also regrets not learning more about planning for retirement.

“I have plans in place for retirement, but they’re definitely not where they should be if I really want to retire early,” she said. “It’s something I struggle with because my grandmother told me you can’t take it with you. But I would like to leave something before for my children.

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Like Henderson, many people know the importance of planning for the future, but it can be difficult to make those plans and follow them through.

In the September 2022 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, editor Sandra Block reports on a growing number of high schools that have added personal finance to their curriculum.

Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance, has developed a series of courses for middle and high schools to help students better prepare for the future. Their Money and Me course examines how attitudes and spending habits affect our ability to make good financial decisions. The program also includes lessons on budgeting, taxes, insurance, and credit.

Erich Whitemore teaches a course on personal finance at Fremont High School.

“It’s a graduation requirement,” he said. “We cover budgeting, credit cards, car loans, student loans, insurance, investments and retirement.”

Whitemore said most students aren’t too enthusiastic about the course at first, but once the basics are explained, they’re happy to have the information.

“They hear about this stuff from parents and grandparents, but once they start learning more in this class, they’re often like, ‘OK, now it makes sense.'”

Students are exposed to the stock market through the Investment Game competition. Whitemore said it’s a fun way for teens to learn about Wall Street.

Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger, shares how a couple started educating their kids about money management by designing a savings plan they call 40/30/20/10.

On each week’s allowance, children are allowed to spend 40% of their money. Into a marked envelope of short-term savings, the children paid 30% of their allowance. In another envelope, marked long-term savings, they put 20%. The remaining 10% is donated to their church.

Henderson said she’s starting to think about meeting with a financial adviser so she can start putting things in place now.

She said she and her husband, David, each had a 401(k) through their employer, but that’s basically all they had in place for retirement.

“We have to start working on it, but when you’re young it’s hard to start thinking that far into the future,” she said.

Financial advisors recommend paying off debts.

Kristi Krepel is a financial advisor for First Investments & Planning at First National Bank of Omaha in Fremont.

She urges customers to make sure they have their finances in order. This includes an emergency fund consisting of three to six months of living expenses.

“That money should be separate from the funds you want to invest,” Krepel said.

Krepel wants people to know that they don’t have to be rich to invest.

“You’d be surprised at the benefits of compound interest over time, even starting at just $50 a month,” Krepel said.

Reinvesting profits is key to seeing investments grow.

“That’s where compound interest comes in,” she said. “During your savings phase, let your money stay invested. Over 10 years, your $50 investment could grow to over $7,000,” she said.

Krepel said a big part of financial planning helps investors feel like they’re in control of their finances and on track to achieve their goals.

Marvin Wiese, financial adviser to Edward Jones, tells clients to gather their statements and review their debts, income and expenses.

“Look in your bank statement,” he says, “and see what you’re spending your money on.”

Wiese recalled a customer who was spending $7 a day on coffee.

“That’s about $200 a month,” he said.

Helping clients achieve their life goals is one of the things Wiese enjoys most about his job as a financial advisor. He uses his parents’ experience to encourage his clients to start making good financial decisions.

“My dad was a hard working man and he was very good at what he did,” Wiese said. “But he didn’t know how to save. He and my mom were living paycheck to paycheck. After Dad’s death, Mom had to continue working much longer than she would have liked.

Many people who take that first step by meeting with a financial advisor arrive with very little personal finance knowledge.

“It’s all about education,” Wiese said, “Everyone should know a little about investing. A lady came in and said, ‘I don’t know anything about that. just said do it.

Wiese thinks one of his jobs as a financial advisor is to help clients build that roadmap.

“The best thing about our job,” Wiese said, “isn’t the investment. It’s the relationships we form.

Geraldine L. Melton