Five vital questions to prepare for your financial future

(ARA) – Have you ever wondered if you’ll be able to afford retirement? Do you question if your finances will keep you afloat if your family were to experience a medical emergency or another expensive and unplanned event?

“Financial awareness and education are extremely important, which is why people need to take a moment and think about their areas of need and risk and determine which steps are the best ones to take to develop a strong financial future,” says Michael R. Fanning, executive vice president, U.S. Insurance Group, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

Take one hour to review your finances and discover if there are areas where your plans can be stronger.

Here are five questions created by financial experts at MassMutual to ask yourself:

1. What are my goals?

Before you get started, determine what you need to finance, especially in the future. Some typical goals to consider include home ownership, starting a family, paying for college tuition and financial independence.

2. Who depends on me?

Part two of determining your goals is assessing who depends on you financially, including a spouse, children and parents or in-laws. These dependents can change – for example your children may leave the house when they graduate – so you might want to take that into consideration and re-evaluate your plan during the course of your life.

3. What are my risks?

Assessing gaps in your coverage is a vital step in the planning process because it allows you to create a plan B. Common risks include dying too soon or living too long, getting hurt, being unable to work due to a job layoff or illness, being retired on a fixed income but facing increasing health care costs or owning your own business and not being able to sell it when you need to retire.

4. What do I need?

When you have your risks and goals all lined up, set out to answer the question: What do I need to make my finances stronger? For example, whole life insurance can help provide security to your family if you were to die at a young age. It is also a product that accumulates cash value, a component that can help at home in the face of unexpected emergencies or to supplement retirement income. If you’re a small business owner, you could take a loan from your whole life policy to help with payroll until receivables come in, for example. While the above options are valid solutions for many, keep in mind that access to cash values through borrowing or partial surrenders will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit. It can also increase the chance the policy will lapse, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates before the insured dies. Consulting a trained financial professional is recommended.

Disability income insurance insures a portion of your income against an unexpected injury or illness that leaves a person unable to work and provide for family. Some carriers also offer retirement contribution protection, in the event of a disabling illness or injury.

5. Who should I talk to?

If you feel you need assistance in strengthening your finances, consider involving a financial professional to help guide you through the process. This person can give you an outside opinion, which is helpful when dealing with emotional issues involving the people you love. A financial services professional can also suggest sound strategies you might not know about.

And lastly, be prudent.

It is important to work with a financially strong, reliable company with a long track record of performance like MassMutual. For more information, visit Insurance products are issued by MassMutual, Springfield, Ma 01111.