Posted by: Dorothy Douglass on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 12:00:00 am
I hope I have become wiser as I have aged. For I have surely aged! I work in Human Resources & Training at the bank, and we had a great manager’s round table discussion the other day, and I had possibly the best question that has ever come up in one of our sessions. A young, very new manager asked: “If you knew then, what you know now (about managing people), what would you do differently?”
And every manager in the room had an answer. This was a great reflective question. We had engaging and wise comments shared, and so, I am going to turn this question inward, twist it a little, and share: “If I knew then, what I know now, about preparing for my financial future, what would I do differently?”
Yes, I was a not-so-smart-but -thought-I-was-da-bomb-college-graduate-newlywed-burgeoning-career person, way back when, and as I am now aiming for some financial goals so I can live comfortably in a few years, here’s how I answered my own question:
If I knew then, what I know now, I would do these things differently, to plan for a more secure financial future:
Spending a retirement payout instead of rolling it over. When I changed jobs, I’d have NOT spent my retirement plan money on a one-time vacation to Florida. I’d have rolled it over to an IRA, or something…. I took a tax hit then, and have 4 years less retirement savings. Geesh…
Accepting or applying for multiple credit cards. I would not have kept taking credit cards from stores, and big banks, and using them. It took me a long time to dig out, and using the credit cards became a very bad habit;
Not officially closing those open credit cards after paying them off. I would have closed those credit cards and notified the stores/banks, not just cut them up as I paid them off. Those all show up (or they did) on my credit report, and could have adversely affected my credit score;
Immediately rolling dividends back into stock. I got a tiny bit of a stock inheritance from a great uncle. I spent those first dividend checks. If I could go back, I would have rolled those over back into the stock starting the moment I got it.
Taking the time to learn, really learn, about my company benefits. What all did I leave on the table?
A company match in a 401(k) – that’s FREE money I might have walked away from;
Understanding and utilizing Flexible Spending Accounts to reduce my taxable income – especially when I was paying for child care;
Staying with a company until I was fully vested in a pension or other retirement plan – I left 6 months shy – twice in my career. Darn it!
Understanding my health plan and what was covered and not covered. Did I miss some benefits?
Hindsight is 20/20. So, hopefully I’ve learned. If nothing else, maybe my ‘shoulda coulda wouldhave’s’ will help someone else make better decisions.