10 Things You Need for Lifelong Financial Success

Successful woman
ASDF_MEDIA / Shutterstock.com

Being money smart is about more than having a budget and eliminating dumb purchases.

It means creating a financial foundation that will carry you and your family comfortably through whatever life throws your way.

To find lasting financial security, you need these products.

1. A fee-free checking account

Man at ATM
Josep Suria / Shutterstock.com

You need a centralized place for your money, so look for a free checking account. Fee-free accounts are a bit harder to find these days, but some banks and credit unions still offer them.

Along with your checking account, sign up for a debit card. Such cards can be useful, but don’t assume they are great for all purchases. For more, check out “9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card.”

2. A high-yield savings account

Piggy bank
Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

Savings rates have been low for years, but you don’t have to settle for the bottom of the barrel. To find the highest rates, stop by our Solutions Center and search for a high-yield savings account.

Online banks offer some of the best rates.

3. Emergency savings

Emergency fund
Ariya J / Shutterstock.com

Every household should have an emergency fund — it’s your own personal form of insurance. Typically, you’ll want your fund to be large enough to pay at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

4. Health insurance

Doctor talking to a patient in a hospital bed
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Health care can come with an enormous price tag, especially if you develop a serious health condition.

Even the most robust people can get in car accidents or be struck down by devastating illnesses. Unless you’re worth millions and can easily pay your own medical bills, going without health insurance is just plain dumb.

A health savings account is another great tool for shoring up your financial security and keeping health care costs down. And it also can double as an extra retirement account. For more on HSAs, check out “3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances.”

5. Homeowners or renters insurance

firefighter putting out a house fire
Jackan / Shutterstock.com

If your home burns down, will you be left out on the street? That’s what happens to some people who fail to insure their property.

Homeowners insurance policies are relatively inexpensive for the coverage they provide. These policies typically pay to rebuild your house in the event of a total loss, such as from a fire. They also generally give you the funding to repair storm damage and vandalism.

If you’re renting, don’t think your landlord’s insurance policy will pay for your stuff. Instead, cover yourself with some cheap renters insurance.

6. Auto insurance

A man makes a phone call after a car crash
Tom Wang / Shutterstock.com

Aside from your home, your car may be your most valuable asset.

While many states require you to carry a minimum level of coverage, you may want to consider getting additional car insurance coverage, depending on your assets and income.

Technology startups like The Zebra and Gabi have made the process of getting the best new car insurance policy easier than ever. They can get you competitive quotes in just minutes.

7. Disability insurance

CC7 / Shutterstock.com

Not having disability insurance can trip up some otherwise money-savvy individuals.

Disability insurance provides money in the event you are unable to work for an extended period. The details may vary by insurer and policy, but one way to simplify the process is to get quotes through Money Talks News partner Policy Genius.

If you’re on the fence about whether to buy disability insurance, consider whether you have a big enough emergency fund to pay the bills if you are unable to work.

8. Life insurance

Woman touching a casket at a funeral
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

If you were to die tomorrow, could your family pay the bills? Do they even have the cash to bury you?

Unless you have plenty of cash in your coffers, you need life insurance. And even if you are wealthy, you might want a policy to help your family pay off estate taxes.

Beyond that, life insurance can come with added bonuses that make it a smart buy. For example, some policies offer living benefits that let you tap into your death benefits if you’re terminally ill.

Getting life insurance traditionally has been a bit of a hassle, but apps are changing everything. Two Money Talks News partners, Policy Genius and Haven Life, can provide you with online quotes for term life insurance in minutes.

9. A retirement fund

Older couple riding bikes
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Someday you’ll want to retire, but that will be difficult if you plan to live off Social Security alone. The government-run program was never meant to be the sole source of anyone’s retirement funds.

So, make sure you have another source of income for your golden years. Your first stop for retirement savings should be a 401(k) plan if your employer provides a match of any kind. After that, look for a tax-sheltered plan such as an individual retirement account.

10. College savings

Father and son at graduation
pixelheadphoto digitalskillet / Shutterstock.com

If you’re childless and plan to keep it that way, you get a pass on this final must-have financial product. Most everyone else should start planning for college now.

Even if you intend to have your children pay their own way, you never know what the future may hold, or how your views may evolve over time. It is best to put some money aside in savings now just in case.

The 529 college savings plans and Coverdell educational savings accounts are common ways to get tax benefits for your kid’s college fund. However, you must use the money for educational purposes or you’ll get hit with a tax penalty.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created
20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created

Amazon’s growing collection of private brands offers everything from toilet paper and coffee to motor oil and clothing.

Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?
Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?

A reader says the government is penalizing him for having a pension. Is he right?

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020
How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020

New year, new you. Get your finances on track with the help of these tools for investing, saving, budgeting and earning.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these little-known perks of shopping on Amazon.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

7 Changes Coming to Social Security and Medicare in 2021
7 Changes Coming to Social Security and Medicare in 2021

Recently, both Social Security and Medicare made some major announcements about benefits for 2021.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

Longer Trips to This Type of Store May Raise Coronavirus Risk
Longer Trips to This Type of Store May Raise Coronavirus Risk

An airborne-disease expert recommends exiting these stores within 30 minutes.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

15 Things You Can Get for Free in December
15 Things You Can Get for Free in December

December is here, which means it’s your last chance to take advantage of fabulous freebies in 2020.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.