efinancing a home, starting a business, saving for college, or retiring? Do you feel like you are paying too much tax? What financial goals or concerns do you have? These important issues can be addressed in a financial check-up. Financial planning provides a framework to assist you in sorting and then organizing the pieces of your financial puzzle.
Why is financial planning important?
A financial plan can help you organize your objectives, evaluate your current situation, and present the options available to achieve your goals. It can help take the mystery and emotion out of otherwise complicated decisions. With a plan in place, you are in a better position to focus on your goals and have peace of mind that you will achieve them.
Following are some of the broad planning areas that most people consider during the course of their lives:
- Retirement n Education
- Investments n Estate
- Insurance n Tax
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, you can see how saving for a child’s education can impact saving for retirement.
This information can be used to assist you in deciding how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose the best products or services. Perhaps, most importantly, you derive peace of mind knowing your financial situation is on track.
The financial planning process
Developing and implementing a comprehensive financial plan involves working with a team of professionals to:
- Develop and understanding of your current financial situation in terms of income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, tax situation, and estate plan.
- Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving them.
- Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build your financial strengths.
- Choose specific products and services that are tailored to meet your financial objectives.
- Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances evolve
Members of the team
The financial planning process will likely involve a number of professionals.
Financial planners act as the quarterback of the team. They focus on your overall plan and coordinate the activities of the other professionals that have expertise in specific areas.
CPAs provide advice on federal and state income, estate, inheritance, business, and gift tax issues.
Estate planning attorneys provide assistance on organizing and titling your current assets as well as preparing a plan of distributing your assets after death.
Insurance professionals evaluate protection needs and recommend appropriate products and strategies.
Investment advisors provide advice about your retirement and other savings vehicles. They assist with determining the appropriate asset allocation and construct an overall investment strategy.
The final and most important member of the team is you. You provide the details of your current situation, as well as your goals and objectives for the future.
Monitoring your plan
The financial plan does not end once you have created and implemented an overall strategy.
Over time, your goals and objectives may change as well as experiencing one or more major events which will require adjustments to your overall financial plan.
Generally, the plan should be reviewed at least annually and whenever a major event occurs. A major event is something that can have a significant impact on your financial situation. Some examples include: buying or selling a home or business, a birth, marriage, or death, a change in employment, or a major change in the economy or tax laws.
Putting it all together
Overall, there are many different aspects involved in your financial life. In addition, your age, family situation, and goals will change over time. Having an overall financial plan that evolves along with your life will ensure that you make the most of your financial situation and provide peace of mind.
A certified financial planner can help you organize your current situation, develop a plan based on your goals, implement the plan, and monitor it on a going forward basis. Find a properly credentialed financial planner that can quarterback you and a team of experts to coach you to financial success.
Eric J. Bleiler, CPA/PFS, CFP is a certified financial planner with JK Financial Advisory Services, 6 Brookhill Square South, Sugarloaf. Contact him at (570) 788-7000 or visit www.jkadvisers.com