Do you picture yourself owning a new home, starting a business, or retiring comfortably? These are a few goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag attached. That’s where financial planning comes in. Financial planning can help you achieve your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture, then outlining strategies tailored to your individual needs and available resources.
Why is financial planning important?
A comprehensive plan serves as a framework for organizing the pieces of your financial picture. With a financial plan in place, you can focus on your goals and what it will take to reach them. One main benefit is that it can help you balance competing priorities. For example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. You can use this information to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. Best of all, you’ll know your financial life is headed in the right direction.
The financial planning process
Creating and implementing a comprehensive plan involves working with financial professionals to:
- Develop a clear picture of your financial situation by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, investment portfolio, tax exposure, and estate plan
- Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals
- Implement strategies to address current financial weaknesses and build on your financial strengths
- Choose specific products and services 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?
You can, if you have enough time and knowledge, but developing a comprehensive plan can require expertise in several areas. Much like deciding to fix your own car, it’s possible, but it might be better to rely on a professional. An Avantax financial planning consultant can give you objective 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. You should generally review it at least once a year to make sure that it’s up to date. It’s also likely you’ll need to make modifications due to changes in your circumstances or the economy. Here are some events that could trigger a review:
- Your goals or time horizon changes
- You have a life-changing event like marriage, the birth of a child, health problems, or a job loss
- Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected
- You have a specific or immediate financial planning need (e.g., drafting a will, managing a distribution from a retirement account, or paying long-term care expenses)
- Your income or expenses substantially increase or decrease
- You’re affected by changes to the economy or tax laws
Common questions about financial planning
What if I’m too busy?
Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of a financial crisis before beginning the planning process. The sooner you start, the more options you may have.
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 unique circumstances. But no matter what type of help you need, a financial professional will work hard to answer all your questions and make the process as easy as possible.
What if my spouse and I disagree?
A financial professional is trained to listen to your concerns, identify underlying issues, and help you find common ground.
Can I still control my own finances?
Generally, financial planning professionals make recommendations, not decisions. You retain control over your finances. Recommendations will be based on your needs, values, goals, and time frames. You decide which recommendations to follow, then work with a financial professional to implement them.