(By Loyd Ford) If you’ve spent any time around people in radio, you know we are a creative, fun, sometimes crazy set of people who work with audio and perception. Many are drawn to the business because of pure passion, and many may not be focused on long-term personal planning.
You’ve likely heard this. People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10. And for those of us in radio, time may seem to travel faster. So, being in a career that focuses on the moment makes it even more important to think about your personal financial future.
While I am not a financial adviser, I do appreciate the people who do the work in our industry and this article is about taking care of your future. No company will do this for you. After all, when you think of consolidation and the variety of fat cats who have floated through and cashed out with millions of dollars, we (the employees) have been and will be responsible for our own future far below the deck of stock options or million-dollar bonuses. So, what do we do? Here are a few things to think about now so you have a financial future. Consult a financial adviser for real advice, but this article is meant to spark thoughts about your own financial plan.
It’s never too early to boost retirement savings. You may think that it is too early and you have nothing to worry about. No, you are in a business that trades largely on youth. The old saying is not only the best, it’s true: Pay yourself first. If you do this, you will have regular savings (emergency savings) and you will also begin your track to save for retirement. You need both in this business.
It’s never too late to begin or thicken retirement. Some people haven’t saved and are significantly along in their broadcast career. It doesn’t matter. You can ramp up now and be surprised how quickly it adds up, especially if you become focused on your efforts toward savings and retirement.
If you are eligible for your company’s 401K, get in it and try to contribute the maximum. Steady paycheck to paycheck contributions work exactly the opposite of living paycheck to paycheck where you simply spend everything you make and don’t pay yourself first. Again, it adds up faster than you think. If your company doesn’t offer a 401K, research Roth IRAs and regular IRAs. You’ll be glad you did.
Beyond 401K, educate yourself. You may think financial “stuff” is boring. It may be, but you will appreciate your younger self so much if you are not left out in the cold later. With friends, I always recommend starting with Vanguard.com. I’m not telling you to use Vanguard. I am suggesting that anyone interested in building a financial future should consider Vanguard as it is easy to understand, has very low fees, and you can find great options to learn about investing through them.
Don’t touch your nest egg. Seriously. This business has ups and downs. We all know that. When people experience being downsized, they have a variety of reactions. Do everything you can in those situations to make your reaction anything but tapping into your retirement savings. It’s much better for you to struggle now than in retirement.
You may be thinking, “Where is the other advice?” If you are still reading this, you should pat yourself on the back and use these five points as a “starter” to your financial future or a refresher. Then, research a financial planner to chart your future financial well-being because the future needs creative people like you.
Loyd Ford has worked as a programmer in markets across the U.S. and spent over a decade working as a ratings strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He runs his own pure play digital platform and has a podcast. Reach him at Rainmaker Pathway; 864.448.4169 or Ford@RainmakerPathway.com.