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S.A.V.E.D.: Five Steps for Making Financial Decisions
September 17, 2015

When making any kind of financial decision, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. You can save yourself from regret later by following the acronym SAVED:

  1. STOP for a mental break
    1. Stop and give yourself time to make a good decision. Don’t fall to pressure.
    2. Feel free to tell salespeople: “I don’t make financial decisions without first consulting my ___. I will contact you if I’m still interested.” Fill in the blank with whomever you choose—your spouse, adult child, investment professional, attorney, or accountant.
  2. ASK questions about costs and risks
    1. Ask questions about costs and risks. Remember YOU are the one in charge of making the decision and should only decide when you feel comfortable.
      1. How much does this cost now? How much will it cost over time?
      2. Are there fees, taxes, penalties, or other charges? When do those apply?
      3. How do I avoid paying for extra services or add-ons if I don’t want them?
      4. Can I cancel and get my money back? What’s the deadline for canceling?
      5. What payment options do I have? Can I adjust my payment date?
  1. VERIFY and check what you’re told
    1. Comparison shop –make sure you’re getting a reasonable deal. Be wary if something seems too good to be true.
      1. Bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards: Visit the financial institution’s website to check requirements, interest rates, payments, transactions and fees.
      2. Loans, investments, and insurance: Get everything in writing to verify that what you were told matches what you read. Make sure the people and companies you’re working with are properly registered in your state and with federal authorities. Check with your state’s banking regulator, insurance commissioner, and securities regulator. For investments, also check with FINRA or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
      3. Other products and services: Check with your state attorney general’s office. For a list by state, visit naag.org.
  1. ESTIMATE your costs
    1. Estimate your costs. Online calculators help you compare just about any financial product or service. Start with fees and charges you pay up front. For longer-term decisions, add in ongoing fees, payments and charges.
    2. Do a cost-benefit analysis. Is this product or service worth it when you analyze costs?
  2. DECIDE whether the costs and value are worthwhile for you
    1. Only make the decision once you’ve finished your homework.

Don’t go into making financial decisions alone. If you have any questions about the above material, or wish to speak to an attorney, please contact HoganWillig at (716)636-7600. HoganWillig is located at 2410 North Forest Road in Amherst, New York 14068, with additional offices in Buffalo, Lancaster, and Lockport.

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