When I called Quiana Hughes to talk about money — a concept we aspire to cover thoroughly here at 32 Letter — one quote kept rising to the surface of my psyche: “Lift as you climb,” words attributed to Mary Church Terrell, one of the first Black women to earn a college degree.
Hughes, a 33-year-old Chicago native, diversified her career course earlier this year, adding licensed insurance broker to her already booming portfolio.
As gem after gem dropped during our 30-minute chat, I just kept thinking about the power in the action of helping others while climbing the ranks in a specific field.
Selling things is not an easy thing to do. Add educating complete strangers to the mix and you might really have a problem. But, none of those things have stood in Hughes’ way when it comes to spreading and teaching the good word about investing wisely to people in black and brown communities.
Truth be told, many of us are long overdue for a real, introspective look about how finances shape our futures.
“We’ve been taught to go to school and get a good job and put your money in a 401(k), but many of us don’t even know how our money is growing,” Hughes said.
It’s impossible to escape the thousands of articles that report a large number of millennials are misusing their money and saving strategies are pretty much non-existent, ultimately leading up to dire constraints after retirement.
Just this week, CNBC reported that adults between that ages of 25 and 34 have an average of $42,000 in debt each, making saving for the future seem like an impossible feat.
Thank goodness for people like Hughes, who hosts financial workshops and offers one-on-one meetings to give those seeking assistance a financial overview, so they can plan for the future.
“I get personal with my clients,” Hughes said. “I ask them what they know about the insurance industry; I talk about annuities and the benefits because you can’t outlive your money with an annuity.”
Speaking of outliving your money, it’s no secret that we are in the age of the GoFundMe Insurance policy. While it’s true — real hardships, such as job loss, crushing medical debts, and other societal factors can inhibit planning for the future, it still should be at least an immediate priority.
One of the surefire factors that keep people from handling their financial business is how delicate the topic of money remains.
“It’s such a touchy topic,” Hughes agreed. “You’re exposing your finances. You have to be truly exposed if you want clarity. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Here are Hughes’ top 5 steps to gather your coins for the future.
Step 1 — Know Your Number
Before you can hop on the highway to financial prosperity, you have to know your current location. Hughes recommends knowing your number in all aspects.
Questions to ask: How much money do you have in your investment accounts and how is it growing? How much debt do you have? How much money do you make every month? How are you bills stacking up?
Step 2 — Analyze Your Budget
Budget is such an ugly but necessary word. You should see how much money you can afford a month to start a regular savings stream. You definitely don’t want to start this process without establishing emergency funds.
Questions to ask: How much money do I have in my savings account? Should I switch over to a high-yield savings account? Do I have regular deposits going into my savings?
Step 3 — Get A Financial Advisor
A financial advisor can be your very best friend. You can unload all of your money problems and let them give you the pathway to success. Getting an advisor or a broker like Hughes will allow you to discuss your goals and options, so you can make real steps to get where you want to be.
Questions to ask: How can I become okay with revealing my financial burdens? What personal qualities do I need in a financial advisor?
Step 4 — Review Your Retirement Options
Social Security may not be around when many of us start turning old and gray. That’s why it’s important to ensure your retirement options when you still have time to allow your money to grow.
Questions to ask: Do I really know how my 401(k) works? What is my projected savings number that I expect to have in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond?
Step 5 — Appraise Your Financial Systems
Take a look and see if your finances are set up properly and in accordance with your lifestyle. You might want to get an index universal life insurance policy because it ensures your life and it builds cash value. Another benefit, Hughes says, it that it’s tax-free income and it can be supplemental income years down the line.
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