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Welcome to "Ask Ian," the series where I tackle your most pressing financial questions.

Today, we're discussing the importance of managing your finances wisely.

Q: I've just paid off all my student loans and I'm now debt-free. How should I adjust my budget, and what's the best way to start investing for the future?

A: I think this depends on where you're at in life and what your goals are. The first thing I would do is make sure my emergency savings is where it needs to be at and then start assessing your needs and goals. Ask yourself some questions like: "Do I want to buy a house soon?" "Am I going to need to buy a new vehicle in the next year?" I would also look at if your employee offers 401k matching and try and max out your 401k contributions if possible.

Q: My partner and I are planning to merge our finances. What are the most important things we should consider to manage our money effectively together?

A: I would say the most important thing is to communicate just like anything else in your relationship! Find out how your partner manages their money. When my wife and I first merged our finances, we had to go through and write down when we both got paid and compare that to our bills and auto payments. You also need to make sure you're both saving and investing for your futures!

Q: I recently received an inheritance from my grandparent who passed away. I'm unsure about the best way to handle this money. What steps should I take to manage this inheritance wisely and honor their legacy?

A: Again, I think it depends on where you're at in life and what your goals are. But I think it's always good to pay off debt, have some money in the bank, and start investing for retirement. If you haven't looked into a traditional or Roth IRA I would definitely meet with a tax and investment professional and start contributing to an IRA of some sort.

Q: How can I start building an emergency fund, and how much should I aim to save?

A: The best way to start an emergency fund is to create a budget and find out how much you can afford to contribute every month to your emergency savings. When you're trying to figure out how much you need in your emergency fund a good rule of thumb is to add up your expenses and keep at least 3 months' worth of expenses in your emergency account.

Q: I want to start saving for my child's college education. Where should I start?

A: I would reach out to a financial advisor and tax professional and ask about a 529 plan. It's a good way to start saving for your kid's college and there are tax benefits to using this program.

Q: What are some budgeting "best practices/tips" for someone just starting their career?

A: When you start earning real money in your early years, it's crucial to stay grounded and not get carried away. Many people get excited by their first few big paychecks and rush to buy their dream car, spend to much on luxury apartments or fancy dinners and end up with hefty monthly payments, or a drained account from spending too much. Instead, consider saving that money to secure your future. I understand it's challenging, but it's definitely worth it!

Thanks for all the questions. Don't forget to watch our series "Ask Ian" and "Financial Guide to Adulting" on all social platforms for more tips and advice!



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