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Getting your money in line

DAILY LEADER / MICHAEL GRANGER

DAILY LEADER / MICHAEL GRANGER

Many resolutions are made to help improve one’s life.

Generally these promises are ones that anyone could benefit from. Something that many people look to change whenever a new year rears its fresh, refreshing head is finances. Many people, young and old, are always looking for the key to saving money, spending less, preparing for the future and getting out of debt. Some can turn to extreme coupon clipping. Others cut down on the amount of drive-thru entrees, and others seek professional help.

Brett Wilson is a financial advisor with EdwardJones. Although he primarily deals with investing, he offered insight into ways to approach the mountain blocking the way to your financial Mecca.

“The biggest question I get is ‘Do I have enough money to retire’,” Wilson said.

His answer is that it is a really complicated question and starts out by rolling up his sleeves with the client.

Wilson said the first thing he likes to do with clients is clean up debts.

“I’m like that with my own debt. I don’t like dark clouds,” Wilson said.

He said he encourages his clients to build emergency funds for between six to 12 months of living expenses.

“It would scare you to see how high tuition will be in 10 to 15 years from now,” Wilson said regarding some of the debts that younger clients have. “You think you’re paying a lot now, that’s a drop in the bucket.”

The next thing he likes to do with his clients with look into starting an investment account or a savings account. Throughout the entire process, he said it’s important to understand that everybody has a different outlook with different needs and different resources.

Wilson said he always recommends life insurance, enough to pay for mortgage, debts and kids’ education among other things.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Wilson said about the approach he takes to a time frame regarding people’s financial issues. “Everybody’s time frame is different because everybody’s goals are different.”

Wilson said the biggest thing for getting over that financial wall is to create a plan and set goals. Try to accomplish goals one at a time giving an example of a short-term goal as paying a credit card off and a long-term goal as saving for the kids’ education.

To accomplish these goals, Wilson suggests saving as much money as you can.

“The cost of living is raising year by year,” he said.

He encourages people to open a savings account with a monthly draft as the secret to continuous saving. He said many people set up the monthly draft so that money transfers the day they’re paid or the day after they’re paid.

“Just treat it like another bill,” Wilson said. “You’re paying bills anyway, why not pay yourself first.”

Wilson is from Waynesboro but has lived in Brookhaven for five years with his wife, Jasmine, and 20-month-old son, Gray.