The End-Game

In the flowchart, this is part of Step 6, but I’m giving it its own category, since it’s (hopefully) where you’ll be until you achieve financial independence/retirement.

At this point, it’s pretty straightforward.  If you don’t have any big expenditures in the next couple years, try maxing out your retirement/IRA funds to utilize their tax advantages.  If you want to invest more, then you would have to open a taxable account.

There are tons of different taxable accounts out there, each with their own histories, advantages, and aggressiveness.  Investing in index funds are a great, low-risk option to grow your money faster than normal.  It may behoove you to get a financial advisor at this point and see what they have to say.

If you know you want to make a big purchase in the future, like buying a house, you can start aggressively saving in a savings or money market account, or invest in a “conservative mix of stocks and bonds”, as the flowchart mentions.  Again, a financial advisor would probably be best able to cater to your specific needs.

A third option could be a mix of these two: perhaps you could max out your retirement account and IRA, but that would hamper your dream of buying a home.  At that point, invest what you feel like you can in your retirement, and save the rest.  It’s never an all-or-nothing thing; at this point, you can mix and match these final two options to suit your financial goals.

*BONUS STEP*: Don’t Get Discouraged!

This step is directly from me to you: be patient with yourself.  Do what you can, but realize that everyone’s finances are different, and everyone goes at their own pace.  I guarantee that every step you take down the flowchart will improve your chances of future financial health, even if you stop at Step 0.  (Did I mention that you should definitely make a budget yet? :D)

The flowchart takes you step-by-step and simplifies the process that you can use to reach financial independence.  However, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  That said, I hope this guide has been helpful.

Do your best, work hard, and good luck!