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Here are 10 principles to consider when putting together a long-term financial strategy, by the non-profit foundation Life Happens.

Financial security is the comfort of knowing your family’s standard of living is secure even when a life-changing event occurs. It is also about having the means to achieve your most important goals, like owning a home or sending your children to college. Many of us are working hard to reach those goals. Some of us may have achieved them. But ongoing economic turmoil has been a rude wake-up call for all of us. We have seen events beyond our control decimate our savings and retirement accounts, knock down the value of our homes and diminish our job security.

In the face of this adversity, it’s important to understand that we are not helpless. We each have the ability to build — or rebuild — a solid financial foundation using the same building blocks as before — a combination of savings, insurance and investments.

Here are 10 principles, put together by the non-profit educational foundation Life Happens, to consider when putting together a long-term financial strategy for you and your family. These are simple steps anyone can take, and they apply whether you have just begun to think about these issues or you already have a detailed plan in place.

1. Protection first

The first step in strengthening your family’s financial future is to face some worst-case scenarios. What if you lose your job, or your salary and benefits are cut? And, if hard times have reduced your ready cash and emergency funds, the insurance component of your safety net becomes all the more important.

2. Life insurance is a must

In times like these, life insurance may seem like a luxury, but it is anything but that. If someone will suffer financially when you die, life insurance becomes essential.

3. Save money regularly

Saving means sacrificing something today so you’ll have something to fall back on in the future. Get in the habit. The more you have saved, the more flexibility you will have to deal with any financial setbacks

4. Keep debt in check

Nothing saps the health of a savings program more than too much debt, especially credit card debt. Avoid it whenever possible.

5. A simple investment strategy often works best

A simple, starter goal for investing is to earn a return on your savings that will outpace inflation. Always take into account your tolerance for risk and your time horizon when investing. Consult with a financial professional for additional advice.

6. Home ownership can still pay

owning your home can still be an important part of a long-term financial strategy. You get a tax deduction for the interest you pay on your mortgage, and that reduces your annual income tax bill. As you pay down your loan over the years, your equity–the value of your investment–will likely grow.

7. Understand your employee benefits

Many companies provide valuable protection through employer-sponsored life, health and disability benefit plans. You should know what they cover (or don’t cover) and how they work. Don’t forget that insurance coverage can disappear if you leave your employer, so investigate individual insurance plans as well.

8. Plan for your children’s education

Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in a college savings plan. Catholic United Financial Credit Union offers Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) plans for our members.

9. Make the tax laws work for you

Every dollar of taxes saved is another dollar you can put toward your savings. Learn more about how saving toward college, retirement, and other future financial needs offers tax-advantaged opportunities. Contact an insurance professional for your life insurance options and a tax professional for tax advice.

10. Get help from a professional

Even a simple financial strategy can benefit from an extra set of eyes, especially if they belong to an insurance or financial professional. Find a professional to help you develop a strategy or evaluate what you already have in place.