How to manage your money Q&As

Even savvy money managers have questions sometimes. Market shifts, tax policy changes, economic fluctuations and big or small life events can have an impact on your financial plan.

While every situation is unique, knowing the answers to these common questions may help you feel more in control of your finances. If you don’t see an answer here addressing a particular question or concern you may have, our financial professionals are available for personalized advice and guidance.

Common financial planning questions

Effectively managing your money starts with a plan. Answers to these common financial planning questions can help you get and stay on track as you work toward your financial goals.

Q. How do I know I have enough in my emergency fund?

A. A general suggested amount is three to six months’ worth of your total monthly expenses, but that will vary based on your circumstances.

What’s in your emergency fund?

Q. Is there such a thing as “good” debt?

A. It’s important to differentiate between debt that can help move you forward and debt that can set you back.

Good debt vs. bad debt: How to know the difference

Q. When is a good time to buy life insurance?

A. The answer depends on your age and the reason you want a policy.

How much life insurance do I need?

Q. What should I include in my financial plan?

A. A strong plan involves every financial element of your life, including your short- and long-term goals.

5 key components of a financial plan

Common investing questions

Whether you’re new to investing or have years of experience, answers to these common investing questions can help build your confidence and, potentially, your portfolio.

Q. How can I make sure my investment portfolio is positioned for growth?

A. A diversified portfolio includes a variety of investments that have different expected risks and returns. The goal is to both enhance and preserve your portfolio’s value.

7 diversification strategies for your investment portfolio

Q. What’s the difference between Roth and traditional IRAs?

A. Traditional IRAs are considered tax-advantaged investment accounts and Roth IRAs are considered tax-free investment accounts.

IRA vs. 401(k): What’s the difference?

Q. How do I know if my investments match my financial goals?

A. Focusing on what you want to achieve can help you determine how to invest.

Do your investments match your financial goals?

Q. How does inflation impact the economy and my investments?

A. Rising inflation may have a negative impact on fixed asset investments but a positive impact on adjustable rate commodities.

Effects of inflation on investments

Q. How do interest rates impact my investments?

A. Recent interest rate cuts are meant to support and stimulate current economic activity, but it’s possible these effects could have an impact on your stocks, bonds and other investments.

How do interest rates affect investments?

Q. How can I protect my assets in a volatile market?

A. Keep your emotions in check and consider following these four steps.

5 strategies for coping with market volatility

Common retirement questions

Knowing when and how much to save for retirement is only the beginning. Get answers to often-asked retirement questions and visit the retirement planning toolkit for more guidance as you save, prepare for and live in retirement.

Q. How much money do I need to retire?

A. The amount you need depends on your specific goals, timeline and financial situation.

How much should I save for retirement?

Q. When should I start saving for retirement?

A. As early as possible. The sooner you start saving, the more you can take advantage of compound interest.

Saving for retirement at every age: A complete checklist

Q. How can I help my child through college while still saving for my retirement?

A. Fund your retirement first. After that, consider these four steps to help you work toward your college savings goals.

How to pay for college

Q. When should I take Social Security?

A. You can start claiming your benefit at 62, but you may want to wait longer if you’re able.

Commonly asked questions about Social Security

Q. How do I know if I can retire early?

A. There are key areas you’ll want to take into consideration as you plan and prepare for your retirement to ensure you can retire at the age you want.

Retirement planning checklist

Q. What should I do with my investment portfolio when I’m nearing retirement?

A. There are certain situations in which you’ll want to manage and minimize potential risk in your portfolio.

Investment strategies by age

Q. How do I generate an “income” in retirement?

A. Rather than rely on a paycheck from an employer, you can select a withdrawal strategy to generate cash flow from sources you’ve already established.

3 retirement withdrawal strategies

Q. How can I pay for healthcare costs in retirement?

A. As you age, your healthcare expenses will increase. Consider all your options, from Medicare to a health savings account to long-term care insurance.

Are you ready for healthcare costs in retirement?

Common tax planning questions

Navigating changing tax policies can be challenging. Get answers to some common tax planning questions below and visit our tax planning resources page for even more insights.

Q. How would anticipated tax policy changes affect me?

A. While actual details are not clear yet, being prepared is important.

How Biden’s income tax policy changes could affect you

Q. Should I take the standard deduction or itemize?

A. Whether you chose to itemize or claim the standard deduction, you’ll generally want to choose the option that lowers your taxable income the most.

Should I itemize my taxes?

Q. What can I do to lower my taxes?

A. Having a variety of investment accounts with different tax treatments can help you lower your taxes now and into retirement.

A guide to tax diversification in investing

Q. How do taxes impact my investment returns?

A. Having a diversified portfolio that includes a combination of tax-advantaged, tax-free and fully taxable investment vehicles and investment accounts can help you manage the amount you of taxes you pay.

Impact of taxes on investment returns

Q. How much of my charitable contributions can I deduct from taxes?

A. It depends on the charitable giving strategy you use. Different contribution strategies are more tax efficient which is a win-win for you and your selected charity.

6 strategies for maximizing your charitable tax deductions

Common estate planning questions

Knowing the information and documentation you need as you begin your estate planning journey can help you feel better informed and more in control. Be prepared by getting answers to often-asked estate planning questions.

Q. What makes up my estate?

A. Your estate includes anything of value that you own (your assets), from real estate to investments.

Estate planning checklist

Q. Why do I need an estate plan?

A. An estate plan enables you to have more control of how your affairs are handled. You chose who makes decisions for you regarding your finances and your health, no matter your age or level of wealth.

4 reasons you need an estate plan

Q. What’s the difference between a will and a trust?

A. Both documents outline what happens to your assets after you die, but a trust is more prescriptive in how you want those assets managed and distributed.

Trust vs. will: What’s the difference?

Q. How do I know if I need a trust?

A. A trust may be right for you if you have specific plans for how you’d like your assets distributed.

What is a trust? Your guide to trust planning

Q. What types of trusts are there, and how do I know which is right for me?

A. The type of trust you choose should reflect your unique wishes for how your assets are handled now and in the future.

Types of trusts: Choosing the right one for you

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