When the topic of financial planning comes up, most people think about savings and retirement—but there’s a lot more to managing your money than building up a nest egg and socking funds away for your golden years, even where your retirement is concerned.

Here are a few questions you might never have thought to ask, but should definitely know the answers to:

What’s the best way to buy a second home for retirement?

Many people plan to buy a second “vacation” home when they retire. There are two ways to do this—you can finance the new home as an actual second home, or as an investment.

With second-home financing, you’ll have to qualify to pay two mortgages, but you have the option of supplementing your income by renting out your second home while you’re not staying in it. Investment loans are generally given for properties that you intend to rent out, and qualification is based on expected rental income from the property, rather than your own income.

Of these two types of mortgages, second-home financing is the better deal. Banks are more lenient toward second-home mortgages, and investment loans always require a minimum down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price.

When buying a second home, it’s a good idea to make the purchase before you retire. It’s easier to qualify for a mortgage while you still have income.

How will my retirement activity plans affect my finances?

You’ve been planning and saving to cover your living expenses when you retire, but that isn’t the only factor you should consider. How will your lifestyle change when you’re no longer working? Many people plan to take up a new hobby, such as golf or sailing, or start traveling more. You should build these additional expenditures into your retirement budget to ensure that you’ll have enough to relax and enjoy your golden years the way you want to spend them.

Does my insurance affect my financial health?

Absolutely! Whether it’s health insurance, auto insurance, home or life insurance, or just about any coverage plan, the various policies you pay on every month have a significant impact on financial planning.

With insurance, it’s important to make sure you have sufficient coverage without being over-insured. Many insurance companies try to talk people into purchasing plans they don’t need, pointing out that it’s “cheaper” to purchase multiple plans through the same company.

You should regularly review any current insurance policies—we suggest annually—and make determinations about whether you’re carrying too much coverage and what you can afford to drop. The longer you’ve gone on the same insurance plan, the more likely it is that you could be paying less right now.

Should I invest in stocks or bonds?

There are a lot of options for investing in your retirement, and stocks and bonds are two of the most common. Bonds are typically relatively stable, but they take time to mature and offer a fixed interest rate. Stocks have the potential to earn you more money, but they can be risky investments that often fluctuate wildly.

The best option for retirement planning is to diversify your investments with a mix of both stocks and bonds, usually through an IRA or a 401k. This way, you’ll have the best of both worlds—stability, and the opportunity to realize a higher return.

What’s the most important element of financial planning?

Believe it or not, there is a simple formula to successful financial planning, and it’s something few people would ever think to ask about.

Here’s the secret: Spend less than you earn.

This is fairly self-explanatory. It’s impossible to get ahead financially if you’re spending money you don’t even have. Living within your means doesn’t have to involve major sacrifice—look into ways to cut costs here and there, and try to keep credit card debt to a minimum (or, ideally, eliminate credit card spending altogether).

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