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Staying on Track During Troubling Times

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(ARA) – The recent market volatility has forced almost all Americans to take a closer look at their own financial situations. While many of us are finding ways to cut costs in our day-to-day budget, the need to keep a long-term view of your financial picture is as critical as ever. While you might need to tighten your belt now, be careful not to make any rash financial decisions that will set you up for future financial woes once the market rebounds.

‘Market turbulence can make the whole financial planning process seem even more intimidating,’ says Bruce Fear, vice president of Protection Products and Solutions for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. ‘Now, more than ever, is the time to take a step back and review the basics to ensure you have the right financial tools in place.’

Thrivent Financial offers the following advice in getting back to the basics for 2009:

Are you ready for the unexpected?

  • Create an emergency cash fund with at least six months worth of living expenses set aside. This fund is essential to cover unexpected short-term expenses, like a major car repair bill or broken furnace. Given the current economy, job stability also should not be taken for granted. Keep the funds safe and accessible in a savings or money market account, and be sure to replenish the fund later if you draw from it for an emergency.

  • Purchase property insurance that protects you and/or your business against the loss of the property or income. Auto, homeowners and business owner policies fall under this category.

  • If your employer does not provide health and disability income coverage, buy your own. You can’t afford to be without it. If you fall ill and have to be hospitalized without health insurance or disability income insurance, you will quickly realize that the cost of not being insured far exceeds the cost of premiums.

  • Life insurance is also essential. It protects your loved ones against the loss of income they would experience if you died. There are two main types – term and permanent life insurance.

  • Long-term care insurance should also be considered to help keep your care options open later in life. The coverage can range from informal assistance through home care to comprehensive care in a skilled facility. Planning now for your future health care needs makes good sense.

  • If retirement is in the foreseeable future, investigate medical insurance. While many companies provide medical insurance, once you retire, the coverage usually ends. And, if you aren’t yet eligible for Medicare you’ll need to consider individual medical insurance. If you’re eligible for Medicare, keep in mind that it won’t likely cover all your health-related expenses in retirement. Supplemental insurance can cover the gaps.

Is your family protected?

While none of us like to have ‘the discussion’ with our family, it is important that you make your final wishes clear. You can help make the entire situation easier by making arrangements for your financial legacy to be passed on to your family and/or designated organizations. Have a will in place and make sure that you have reviewed the tax implications of the estate you are leaving behind. A little forethought now will go a long way in providing a smooth transition for your heirs.

Everyone has different needs appropriate for their individual situation, but by getting back to basics, you can help protect yourself from some of the unexpected challenges life throws at us.

Visit to learn more about retirement savings, investing and tax planning.

Courtesy of ARAcontent