By Kelli Kiemle,  AIF®, Director of Marketing and Client Experience

As a married mother of two boys who works in the financial industry, there are plenty of financial concerns that keep me up at night. By title, I’m not an ‘advisor,’ but having worked in this industry for almost 15 years I know enough to be a little dangerous in a debate over what I should have saved or planned for by my age.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling because the advice we offer our clients can be a lot to take in. It can feel pretty overwhelming even to someone who has a lot of financial experience.

I have to remind myself constantly that my close friends and family – and even people I run into outside of work – don’t ‘speak our language’ and possibly don’t know the basics about saving for future goals. Or if they do have a savings discipline in place, they may not be well-versed in other critical safeguards – like strategies to protect themselves and their families against all those downside events we hope will never happen.

With all of this in mind, these are the top five things, my husband and I have committed to doing before my 40th birthday in three years:

  1. Maximize our savings

By nature both my husband and I have been good savers from the beginning – I have my parents to thank as they lead by example. What I live by: Splurge sometimes, but live within your means and create a savings plan early on. The hardest thing to do is start, so luckily I started right when I could with a small amount, and have since expanded that savings effort. My husband and I make consistent contributions to savings accounts, estimated taxes, our vacation fund, and our house fund. And don’t forget our kids – our most expensive investment, which brings me to number 2.

  1. Continue funding our children’s college funds

One of our top goals as a couple (behind our own retirement) is to fund our children’s education. If you have kids and it’s a goal you’ve decided to tackle – start as early as possible, compounding is your friend. We have chosen to fund a 529 because of the tax-free growth. We also created a UTMA for them to add birthday/holiday/fun money for their future as well.

  1. Create estate planning documents

After our first son was born, we went online to a legal site and created a set of estate planning documents – we were trying to be responsible. However, we have since learned that our original intentions were not completely documented and none of our assets were registered in the trust, so we are starting over with an estate planning attorney. We have specific desires regarding who would care for our children and how assets can be distributed – so we are getting it all in writing!

  1. Ensure we have enough life insurance

One item we’ve already crossed off our list was getting adequate life insurance on each of us since we both work and depend on both salaries to fund our lifestyle. We decided on term insurance because it’s inexpensive and we are good savers already. This coverage will ensure that if something were to happen to either of us or both of us – we will be taken care of and so will our kids. This gives us both much peace of mind. For us, it’s worth the investment!

  1. Understand where we currently are in our pursuit of retirement

We both know this beyond any doubt: We want to retire!

Both our jobs can involve their share of pressures and we have plenty of interests outside of work. One day we would like to retire and we want to enjoy it. Over the next couple of years, we need to review where we are currently and what else we need to do to make sure retirement is within reach when we are ready.

Planning for your now and the future can feel stressful and overwhelming. But my take on it has been to start with one small thing and build on it. Just like with exercise, you won’t regret taking the steps forward to having a more solid plan.

How do you balance having the life you want to enjoy today with what you’re going to need in the future? Are you doing what it takes to enter your dream retirement? TAKE OUR QUIZ to find out.