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The Road to Financial Freedom

Thrivent Freedom Financial Group shares how to take the first steps to invest in your future

It’s never too late to start. 

That’s what Martin Cole at Thrivent Freedom Financial Group of Waconia says. As a certified financial planner, Martin knows how important it is to begin saving for the future, no matter how small the amount. 

Nearly 70% of Americans don’t feel they’re on track with their retirement accounts, according to a September 2023 article from U.S. News and World Report. But how do you know how much is enough for retirement? A financial planner can help you figure that out. 

“I can see if a person is on track to achieve a successful retirement,” Martin says. “I can help create a financial plan that can help a person stay focused on short- and long-term financial goals.” 

Here are some of the basics that Martin recommends to get started on the road to a financially stable future. 


Martin says a good rule of thumb is to invest 10-15% of income. If that’s not possible, invest as much as you can and build on it over time. 

“As more money becomes available, the invested amounts can increase over time,” Martin says. “It’s best to get started, even if the amount is small. Getting started helps create momentum and can help accumulate funds over time.” 

For example, a mutual fund can be started with as little as $50 per month. If you don’t want to start with a monthly investment, an IRA can be set up with a lump sum of $1,000. 

These little steps can add up. If your employer offers a 401k, Martin says to invest enough to ensure you receive their maximum match amount. Since the contributions of a 401k are typically deducted from your paycheck, it’s an easy way to put money away without thinking about it. Martin suggests also working with a financial planner who provides you with more investment options and can look at tax efficiency to minimize taxes over time. 


Martin says to be intentional with how money is spent. “Spending on a frivolous item means those funds aren’t being applied toward your financial goals. Have a budget and analyze what’s most important.” 

So, how do you get started with a budget? Martin suggests setting financial goals and prioritizing spending. 

“If a purchase can’t be paid in full, don’t put it on a credit card,” Martin advises. “The interest costs can greatly increase the price of the item.” Martin also recommends setting aside three to six months of income to help when unplanned emergency expenses happen so you don’t have to rely on a credit card or your retirement funds. 


“There’s good and bad debt,” Martin says. “Good debt can be a mortgage, and a home usually increases in value over time. Bad debt is credit card debt that often has high-interest rates.” Martin recommends not taking on mortgage payments that are more than 25-35% of income and paying credit card balances in full every month. 


“As a person gets closer to retirement, it’s important to create a strategy to generate lifelong, inflation-adjusted income,” Martin explains. He suggests taking into consideration what you’re comfortable with and making sure your investments aren’t too aggressive or conservative. 

Regarding saving for kids’ college, Martin recommends a balanced approach. 

“It’s one of the best gifts you can give to your kids, but it’s important not to neglect your own retirement,” Martin says. “Your child can borrow for college, but you can’t borrow for retirement.” Martin can help clients when looking at financial aid for education because some investments can impact the amount of aid received. 

Where to Begin

Set up an appointment with Martin at his office in downtown Waconia. You can have a simple transactional service or get more comprehensive financial planning. Martin can go over all of your options and goals to help meet your money goals. His team can help with various funds, stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance, including Medicare. Connect with Martin at 952-999-7686 or email him at Remember, it’s never too late to start!

It’s best to get started, even if the amount is small. Getting started helps create momentum and can help accumulate funds over time.