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The Three Buckets Principle

By
Windus Fernandez Brinkkord, AIF®, CEPA
March 6, 2019
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The world of finance is tricky to navigate. With so many options available for your investments, it can seem complicated and daunting when trying to plan for your financial future.

The three buckets principle is a way of simplifying the complex and is suitable for people with substantial savings as well as people who are just starting out. Whether you’re well established in your career or fresh out of college, setting up your three buckets should be a priority.

How does it work?

The three buckets are:

  • Bucket 1: Emergency Funds
  • Bucket 2: The Goal Bucket
  • Bucket 3: Retirement Bucket

Bucket 1 – Emergency funds

Expect the unexpected and make sure you’ve planned financially for it.

Unanticipated costs can be devastating financially. Getting laid off work, writing your car off or escalating medical costs, for example, can set you on the financial back foot for many years.

Bucket number 1 creates a buffer of cash that is only to be used for such emergencies. By having this bucket available, it means that should the need arise you won't be dipping into other savings or going into debt to cover the cost.

How much to save in your emergency fund bucket

Aim to have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses here. Add up all your monthly costs, such as mortgage, bills, transport costs, and groceries, and that will give you the total to aim for.

Bucket 2 – The goal bucket

This bucket is for your short to mid-term financial goals. Savings for your kid's college, a down payment on a house, or even saving for a vacation can go in this bucket.

How much to save in your goal bucket

This is effectively disposable income so anything left over after you’ve attended to your monthly outgoings and buckets 1 and 3 can be added to bucket number 2.

If you've managed to fill bucket 1 already, you can use that cash to start filling bucket 2.

Bucket 3 – Retirement bucket

It's never too early to start saving for retirement, so you should aim to have this bucket set up as soon as you possibly can, ideally, as soon as you enter the workforce.

How much to save in your retirement bucket?

Aim to save 15-20% of your gross income for retirement. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, deposit part of your bucket 3 money there. If you don't have access to a 401(k) plan, consider a Roth or traditional IRA to maximize your investment.

Bucket 3 is made for investing as you want to maximize your returns for your golden years.

These three buckets will help you successfully save for your future. It's a good idea to attend to buckets 1 and 3 first. Once you have them filling nicely, you can look to start filling bucket number 2.

This simple strategy is easy to follow yet priceless for effective financial planning. If you haven’t got yours set up yet, make it a priority to do so.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible in the contribution year, with current income tax due at withdrawal. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax in addition to current income tax.

The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change.

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By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
December 7, 2018

Giving to charitable causes can be a very emotional thing. You’re supporting something near to your heart, possibly with a deep personal connection. However, if you’re not mindful, it is possible to give at the expense of yourself. Be sure you don’t let your heartstrings control your purse strings.

Forethought and planning should extend over all your financial decisions, including charitable giving. For a variety of reasons, many don’t follow a plan. Some give whatever’s left in their budget, perhaps not as much as they’d like or tempting them to give more than they can afford. Others give at the end of the year for the tax break. Alternatively, perhaps charitable giving isn’t planned for at all, which allows one to be swayed by emotion when the right cause comes along. Suddenly, they can be committing based on what they feel rather than what’s best for their finances.

Once you decide to factor your charitable giving into your annual financial plan, you can start doing your research. Not only do you determine which causes you want to support, but you can also investigate various organizations that service that cause. There are many websites that evaluate charitable organizations to ensure that your financial contributions or going where you want. Additionally, having your charitable giving worked into your financial plan allows you to turn down other charitable requests graciously. Should you be approached, you can mention your annual giving plan and that you will consider them for the following year.

Being mindful about your charitable giving also gives you the opportunity to influence your children or loved ones on how to do the same. Your actions become the example to your values. While you needn’t share all the details, you can openly share how you formulated your plan and why. The more people who become aware of how to consciously create an annual giving plan, the more people are actively working towards their financial independence.

I don’t think it’s possible to take all emotion out of your connection to a charitable cause, and I don’t think you should. However, I will always be an advocate of folks proactively working towards their financial independence. The key to that is approaching your finances with reason and logic, relegating our emotions to the backseat and holding firm to your purse strings.

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