Financial Security

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A new year often inspires new financial habits. If you want to put yourself on a path to building wealth throughout the year, then consider these steps, all of which are designed to help you work towards greater financial security. They include both offensive moves, like saving more, as well as defensive ones, like protecting yourself from identity thefts.

1/ Protect yourself against identity theft

Identity thieves can steal not just your money but also your identity, which allows them to create new, fraudulent accounts in your name. The cost can add up to tens of thousands of dollars as well as hours of your time trying to rectify the situation. One of the most common online identity theft methods is for an attacker to send an email with a hyperlink that leads victims to an official-looking site that requests personal information. People can be fooled into sharing their names, addresses, and credit card numbers. To keep yourself safe, avoid clicking on unfamiliar URLs sent to you via email, even if at first glance they appear to be from your bank or a retailer.

2/ Use tools to help you save more

Apps can make it easier to protect bank accounts from fraud and save more money, and it can pay to use them.

3/ Become more financially educated

When it comes to building wealth over time, financial literacy is critical. If you understand basic concepts when it comes to saving, investing and compound interest, then they are more likely to sit on a significant nest egg as you get older. That is why making an effort to educate yourself, whether through workplace education programs or online tutorials, can pay off.

4/ Prepare your money to last longer

As you get older and prepare to retire, it is important to make sure your money will last. That means ensuring your investments are in a portfolio that is aggressive enough to outpace inflation and reviewing your budget for any big leaks.

5/ Pay off expensive debt

If you are still carrying around credit card debt or other loans, then it is time to make a plan to pay it off. In “The Debt Escape Plan,” author Beverly Harzog suggests setting specific targets for yourself like paying off one credit card by April; and getting support and advice from a credit counsellor if necessary. You might also want to look for ways to scale back spending while simultaneously earning more money, which can then be put towards the debt.

6/ Know how to restart

If you have had a rough 2015 and 2016 is about rebuilding, then you might want to focus on prioritising savings and re-establishing your credit. Financial experts suggest going slow, making on-time monthly payments, to eventually reach a higher credit score.

7/ Use social media to help improve your finances

Facebook and Twitter are not just about fun and games; social media tools can also help you manage your finances. For example, revising your LinkedIn profile can help you land new clients or a new job. You can also check your Facebook “about” section to make sure you are not revealing details relevant to banking security questions that could make it easier for someone to hack into your account.

8/ Improve your credit rating

Giving your credit score a boost can help you get a better interest rate on your mortgage or a new car loan. To improve it, you can start by paying off debt, requesting a credit line increment and always making on-time payments.

9/ Rebalance your investments regularly

If you invest too conservatively, then your money might not keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, if you are overly aggressive, swings in the market could lead to a loss of assets at an inconvenient time, like shortly before retirement. Review your portfolio at least once a year to make sure you have the right combination for yourself.

10/ Check your insurance policies

Life insurance is an essential part of safeguarding your (and your family’s) financial security, especially if you are the primary breadwinner. Reviewing your policies once a year to make sure they are in good standing and you have enough coverage is a good idea. You can also check if you have options to take out supplementary coverage through your workplace. But do remember that as important as it is to save money, it’s also important to spend it in ways that bring you joy before it’s too late.

AIA understands that while your needs may evolve at different stages of life, your desire to protect you and your loved ones will always stay the same. That’s why it is important that you review your policy every now and then to bridge the gap between the protection you have, and the protection you need. To ensure your family is protected against unfortunate events in life such as accident, illness, disability or death, AIA’s life insurance plans can help avoid financial strains should the needs arise. For individuals seeking to protect their health, AIA offers a comprehensive range of health insurance plans ranging from medical, hospitalisation and long term care to critical illness.

This article was published in the February 2016 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!


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