CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For many families like the Staggs, money is always on their minds.
“Everyday. Throughout the day,” Stacy Stagg said
“Daily. I'm probably the one who's most concerned like I’ve cut almost every piece of fat we have off of our budget,” said Shane Stagg.
Shane and Stacy say despite the seemingly strong economy, signals of a forthcoming recession keep them up at night with memories of the last one still fresh.
“We got lucky in the last one. We had a lot of friends who went through short sales and lost their homes and wrecked their credit for seven years. They're just coming out of the nightmare,” Shane said.
At the heart of their concerns are their twin girls. Both of which have medical needs.
“We were living within our means and we were able to save and set up some things. Since that changed when our girls were born, we've gone down to one income and the medical needs the girls have are extraordinary, they're above the norm so at the same time we lost an income, we needed more money to get through the day to day,” Stacy said.
So FOX 46 is getting results for the Staggs results by pairing them with financial advisor Nicole Pilo. She says the first step is taking a good hard look at their financial reality.
“Most people seem to enjoy the idea of having a plan and understanding what the numbers are even if we can't hit the goals all the time, knowing what we're going to try to achieve so we can try our best,” said Nicole.
Nicole says priority number one is having liquid savings in the event of a sudden financial downturn.
The Staggs, like so many working families, have most of their savings in a 401K which scares Shane.
“Anxious, nervous, I mean what we have left over is basically contingent on where the market goes,” he said.
Nicole suggests something like a savings account where you could get the money if you needed it in the event of an emergency or a recession.
“You guys are doing a great job doing that for retirement into a 401K which is really great, but I would suggest that one of the things we might want to consider is making sure that you are saving something that's more liquid,” said Nicole.
The second thing is to make sure you are saving systematically. Nicole says savings should be automated.
“Because we have a tendency not to do things if they are the last priority,” she said.
Next, protecting their family by setting up legal agreements such as wills and trusts.
The most important thing when you have children in my assessment is would be making sure there is a guardian assigned that if something happened to both of you that your children would have someone who takes care of them.
“You'd be amazed at the percentage of people who sit in front of me who have children, but don't have some kind of estate plan,” Nicole says.
Not just an estate plan, but life insurance and other forms of financial protection.
Shane is the primary breadwinner and if something happened to you to where you couldn't work anymore then there's not really enough coming into the family.
It’s a tough moment for Stacy, but one she feels better about by having a plan.
“I still have a lot of uncertainty about our family and the girls, specifically the medical things that we're dealing with, but this would be a big thing off the list,” she said.
Finally, Nicole says it's worth taking a look at debt. Fortunately, the Staggs have most "good debt", things like a mortgage.
“We might be able to look at some other ways to possibly look at what you do have in debt and manage that in a different way,” said Nicole.
In all, Shane and Stacy are much like many American families. They work hard, they love their kids and they want financial peace of mind. Having a plan will help.
“I don't know if I’ll ever get to a point where I’m not thinking about it, but I would like to have more certainty around the numbers versus just imagining what I think is the right thing,” Stacy said.
You’re never prepared for all the things that can happen emotionally necessarily, but you can be prepared financially.