As a financial planner, it always shocks me to hear some of the reasons people have for not having a financial plan in place.
“I don’t have enough money yet”
“I’m too young”
“It’s too expensive”
The question I usually respond with is: “Do you picture yourself owning a new home, launching a business, starting a family or retiring comfortably?” These are just a few of the financial goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag.
This is where financial planning comes in. Financial planning helps you target your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture and outlining strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and available resources.
Why is financial planning important?
A financial plan serves as a framework for organizing all of the pieces of your financial life. With a financial plan in place, you'll be able to focus on your goals and understand what it will take to reach them.
One of the main benefits of having a financial plan is that it can help you balance competing financial priorities. A financial plan will clearly show you how your financial goals are related--for example, how saving for your children's college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. Then you can use that information to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. Best of all, you'll know that your financial life is headed in the right direction.
The financial planning process
Creating and implementing a comprehensive financial plan generally involves working with financial professionals to:
Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, your investment portfolio, your tax exposure, and your estate plan
Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals
Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build on your financial strengths
Choose specific products and services that are tailored to help meet your financial objectives
Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change
Why can't I do it myself?
If you have enough time and knowledge - you absolutely can. Keep in mind that developing a comprehensive financial plan typically require expertise in several areas. It is also difficult to give yourself objective advice. A financial professional can give you, fact-based information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you time and ensuring that all angles of your financial picture are covered.
Staying on track
The financial planning process doesn't end once your initial plan has been created. Your plan should be reviewed at least once a year to make sure that it's up-to-date. It's also possible that you'll need to modify your plan due to changes in your personal circumstances or the economy.
Common questions about financial planning
What if I'm too busy?
Don't wait until you're in the midst of a financial crisis or 10 years out from retirement before beginning the planning process. The sooner you start, the more options you may have.
Is it expensive?
This a typical assumption based on some stereotypes that are quickly becoming outdated. If you envision an older man in a fancy office who profits off the financial products you buy — well, it’s probably time to take another look. We’ve redesigned the cost to be more affordable for the younger generations.
Is the financial planning process complicated?
Each financial plan is tailored to the needs of the individual, so how complicated the process will be depends on your individual circumstances. But no matter what type of help you need, the goal is to make the process as easy as possible.
What if my spouse and I disagree?
This is more common than you would think, but I’ve been trained to listen to your concerns, identify any underlying issues, and help you find common ground.
Your financial health — just like the physical or mental kind — takes time and effort. We all have financial goals and, in many cases, there are several that require our attention at any given time. Having a well-designed financial plan in place will help you navigate those important decisions and keep you on track. By starting earlier in life, you have the advantage of time. Don’t let your “fears” stand in the way of making real progress.
As a financial planner, my goal is to make every effort to help you make smart financial decisions and hopefully avoid making crucial mistakes. I’m invested in your success. If you’re on the fence, please reach out and ask me questions.