First Responders play a critical role in our communities, often putting themselves in danger to help others. I recall going from call to call during my midnight shift. My weekend could never come soon enough! I wanted to be able to spend my weekends off with my family and do the things I wanted to do. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve prioritized my financial health. Since becoming a financial advisor, I’ve noticed many first responders aren’t taking advantage of financial planning services. Financial planning organizes and prioritizes your financial situation, giving your money a purpose and allowing you to plan for the future more strategically.
I believe there are several reasons why first responders may not be utilizing financial planning or working with a financial advisor:
- Limited time:
First responders often work long and irregular hours. In my experience as a police officer, it was not uncommon to work a midnight shift during the week and then have to be at court at some point during the day. This can make finding time to meet with a financial advisor or focus on financial planning difficult. Not to mention that a high-stress job can leave you mentally and emotionally drained, making it a challenge to concentrate on financial matters.
- Lack of awareness and financial education:
Many first responders may be unaware of the financial planning resources and strategies that can help them improve their financial situation. They may not understand the benefits of financial planning or may not know how to find the right financial advisor for them. The pension system deferred comp, and their employers are not permitted to give advice. They only can provide information. There is a significant distinction between giving advice and providing information.
- Limited Resources:
First responders may believe they do not have the financial means to work with a financial advisor or invest. We all make financial decisions. Paying yourself first, delaying gratification, and making some financial sacrifices can open up opportunities and give you more flexibility.
- Perception of financial planning:
Some first responders believe that financial planning is only for the wealthy or that it is not necessary for their profession. This perception may cause them to disregard the significance of financial planning. Financial planning enables you to make informed decisions about your money.
- A belief that pensions and deferred comp are enough:
Many first responders have pensions that provide them with an income in retirement. If you work for the state of Ohio, you may be eligible to invest in Ohio Deferred Comp, which is an additional retirement savings vehicle. With financial planning, you can avoid costly pension mistakes by determining your optimal plan of payment and having a more clear and more realistic understanding of what your goals are and whether they are even attainable.
Despite these challenges, it is essential for first responders to prioritize financial planning. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Improve financial stability:
Financial planning can help first responders better manage their finances, reduce debt, and improve their financial stability.
- Retirement planning:
Financial planning can help first responders plan for retirement. Selecting a firm and a financial advisor that understands your pension and works with other pension members like yourself is ideal.
- Emergency planning:
Financial planning can help first responders prepare for unexpected emergencies, such as job loss, disability, medical expenses, natural disasters, or career transitions.
- Tax planning:
Financial planning can help first responders minimize tax liability and keep more of their hard-earned money.
- Financial Confidence:
Financial planning can help first responders feel more confident and in control of their financial future, leading to improved mental health and overall well-being.
Financial planning is a proactive and tactical approach to helping first responders achieve financial stability and security. It’s important for first responders to utilize financial planning and the resources available to them, so they can continue serving our communities effectively.