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Greenville Business Magazine

An Unexpected Tragedy For My Family Reaffirmed The Reason I Love Helping Others

By Jordan Burns, Northwestern Mutual 

While juggling the demands of everyday life, it’s easy to put your financial planning on the back burner, especially if you just graduated from college and are trying to land your first job and find your way into “adulting.” Figuring out how to budget and pay for all your expenses is typically your main financial focus because after all, you have the rest of your life to be responsible and plan for the unexpected. When I started my career as a financial advisor, I heard these excuses a lot. My younger brother was reluctant because, as a recent college graduate and newlywed, he naturally thought he had his whole life ahead of him to figure out the best ways to save for retirement and think about unexpected setbacks.

Unfortunately, when Chandler died unexpectedly at age 24, this painful and tragic event for our family reinforced the importance of preparing for the unexpected, especially at a young age. I find comfort in knowing that I challenged my brother at a young age to be proactive and responsible with regards to planning as a young professional and husband. Because Chandler made smart choices to protect and care for his wife, we were able to help reduce the financial burden and allow finances to not be a focus while she grieved her husband’s death.

Whether your goal is to be better prepared if tragedy strikes, get out of debt or save for the things you want today – achieving your goals starts with a comprehensive financial plan. This plan will be one of your keys to preparing for potential financial risks, saving for the future and planning for retirement. Get on track with these five easy tips:

  1. Know where you stand. Before you know where you’re going, you must know where you are today. Review your current assets, debts, expenses, and income sources. Get a clear view of your financial situation.

  2. Create detailed and personal goals. When setting goals, it’s important to make them specific and relatable. For example, ‘saving for vacation’ isn’t as motivating as saving $5,000 by January for a vacation to Hawaii. Making sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and have a Timeline – will help propel you to achieve them. 

  3. Partner to create a plan.  Partnering with a trusted financial professional will help you to map out strategies that can get you to your goals, set a time frame for reaching them and hold you accountable. A financial professional can help you build a personalized plan to meet your short- and long-term goals – no matter how big or small. 

  4. Take control.  Not all financial priorities are based on big life milestones. Sometimes achieving a seemingly small financial feat can be just what you need to get on the right track. Unsure of where to begin? Here are some items to consider putting on your financial to-do list: 

  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Build an emergency fund—aiming to have six months of living expenses socked away.
  • Manage debt wisely (pay off high-interest and non-deductible debt first).
  • Build your credit score.
  • Save for retirement—and take full advantage of your employer’s retirement plan.

5. Review your plan regularly. Life is filled with changes, both personal and financial. Milestones like a new job or a new family member will impact your strategy. Make sure to meet with your financial advisor before one of these milestones and at least annually to ensure your mix of investments, budget and insurance options are current and accurately reflect your goals and risk tolerance. To help you remember, review your financial plan around the same time each year -  the start of the new year or your birthday.

Article prepared by Northwestern Mutual with the cooperation of Jordan Burns. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its subsidiaries. Securities are offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member of FINRA and SIPC. Jordan Burns is an agent of NM and registered representative of the NMIS based in Greenville, SC. To contact Jordan Burns, please call 864-232-2281 x2255 email him at or visit his Web site at