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How not to derail your financial future.

By Shelley Seale, Photo by Johnny Stevens

Angela Koch joined the Austin-based U.S. Money Reserve in 2003 and was promoted to chief executive officer in 2015. She has positioned U.S. Money Reserve, one of the world’s largest private distributors of gold, silver and platinum products, as a precious-metals leader. Koch was previously an executive at Harrell Gourmet and part of the strategic-business development team at KLA Tencor. Given her financial bona fides, Austin Woman asked Koch to share her unique insight into how economic turmoil on both a national and international scale can influence your personal finances and your family’s financial future.

Austin Woman: How can women best protect their finances, savings and investments from unexpected risks like a volatile election, stockmarket crash, terrorist attacks, etc.?

Angela Koch: Live within your means, not someone else’s. First, save, save and save some more. Without an adequate amount of savings (generally six to eight months of expenses) to deal with life’s unexpected emergencies, you could find yourself relying on credit and sinking into debt. Second, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Uncertainty is a daily reality, but diversification through a wellrounded portfolio of stocks, bonds, real estate and precious metals can help you reduce your exposure to risk. Third, double check your insurance coverage, including health, homeowner, auto, mortgage and life insurance.

AW: How do you set up a reliable budget when you’re self-employed or have an unpredictable income?

AK: Start by mapping out the bare minimum you need in order to cover your essential expenses like rent or mortgage, groceries and utility bills. Then estimate your nonessential spending like eating out, entertainment and clothes. This will give you a good idea of how much you need to make each month to avoid relying on credit or dipping into savings.

On the first of the month, deposit this exact amount into your checking account. Put additional income you earn throughout the month into your savings account. This is referred as “zero-sum” budgeting.

AW: Are there specific types of products, services or advice that you would recommend all women have or understand as the basics?

AK: Women need to have a financial plan for retirement, whether a traditional 401(k), other employer retirement plan or a self-directed IRA. These offer greater flexibility. Especially if it includes precious metals, this can help you diversify away from traditional assets and stay in command of your retirement. Never make any major financial moves without consulting the right expert, someone with a proven record of success in the area you are interested in.

AW: How would you respond to those who say, “My debt is overwhelming. How do I begin creating a better financial future for myself?”

AK: I would encourage you to reach out for help. There are many resources to help you reframe the way you think about money, spending and budgeting, and make a plan for lowering your debt. Before you can begin taking on any of the risks associated with investing, even an investment that’s low risk like government bonds, you must get yourself out of debt. Smart money habits take time to build, and bad money habits take time to break. Your best financial future is a debt-free future.

AW: What can women do in the next 12 months to aggressively increase their savings?

AK: Really look at how you’re spending your time and money. Could you take freelance projects outside your regular job? And what about nonessential expenses: Can you cut any? Even if you aren’t able to increase your earnings, you can noticeably increase your savings by cutting discretionary spending. In a time span of 12 months, spending less and earning more is the quickest way to bolster your savings account.

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