Back To Basics for 2018

A few weeks remain until Labor Day and our transition to Fall, so maybe you can block out some time to get Back to Basics. The basics I’m referring to are the fundamentals of a solid and successful financial plan.

If you consider all that goes into that success it seems to me that having a few key components in place is of utmost value. That’s where financial planning comes in. Financial planning is a process that can help you determine the components and outline the strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and your available resources.

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, such as how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. Then you can use the information you’ve collected to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. If something occurs which requires reevaluating your priorities you have the foresight to make the necessary adjustments.

Here are some common financial goals cause someone to seek help …

  • Saving and investing for retirement
  • Saving and investing for college
  • Establishing an emergency fund
  • Providing for your family in the event of your death
  • Minimizing income or estate taxes
  • Tracking Household Net Worth
  • Evaluating Beneficiary of assets

I work with many clients discussing their key concerns and goals. With that information we implement a systematic approach …

  • 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
  • Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change

I work with individuals and families focusing on the overall financial plan. I’ll often coordinate and consult with other professionals who have expertise in specific areas. This can include working with accountants or tax attorneys who’ll provide advice on federal and state tax issues.

I work together with estate planning attorneys to help you plan your estate and give advice on transferring and managing your assets before and after your death. There are also estate planning attorneys with whom I interact who focus on Special Needs Planning, so feel free to contact me with any questions on loved ones who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

In this comprehensive approach to a successful financial well-being the key component is the client. Your needs and objectives guide the advisors, and once you’ve carefully considered any recommendations, all decisions lie in your hands.

It’s not uncommon for someone to decide they’ll handle the process themselves. The question is whether that person has enough time and knowledge. Some pieces to the plan will require expertise in critical areas. I pride myself in giving clients objective information and help them weigh alternatives. This can save time and ensure that all the proper steps are covered.

Some might think that the financial planning process ends once a report is created with proposed action steps laid out.

Depending on the engagement, that might be the case, but many times I’ll work with the client in a continuing relationship which monitors and modifies the plan, as necessary. Some of the events that might trigger a review of your financial plan:

  • Your goals or time horizons change
  • You experience a life-changing event such as marriage, the birth of a child, health problems, or a job loss
  • You have a specific or immediate financial planning need (e.g., drafting a will, managing a distribution from a retirement account, paying long-term care expenses)
  • Your income or expenses substantially increase or decrease
  • Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected
  • You’re affected by changes to the economy or tax laws

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, my team and I will work hard to make the process as easy as possible, and will gladly answer all of your questions.

As the summer winds down, you may have time to relax with a good book.  A couple that might be of interest are Our Towns by Deborah and James Fallows, and The American Spirit by David McCullough.  Let me know if you have a favorite you’ve read this summer.