Financial planning sounds ominous, cold, and for some, threatens to include exposing parts of your life you’d rather not address. Plus, it feels like financial planning may take up hours of time you could spend doing…all sorts of things.
It’s hard to imagine getting started, and seems even harder to finish.
But there’s no debating the reality: understanding where you are and where you’re headed will help you reach your financial goals. For some, the goal is “financial independence”; for others, it’s “retirement” or even “early retirement.”
Whatever the destination, financial planning helps you consider changes today that will impact how you’ll accumulate money and navigate taxes in the future. A recent study indicates having a financial plan often includes an even more enticing set of positive outcomes. The study showed a stark difference in peace of mind and confidence for those who had a financial plan.
For example, over half (56%) of those with a plan said they are “very confident” they’ll be able to retire when and how they want. For those without a plan, that confidence level dropped to less than a 1/3 (30%).
Sadly, the vast majority of Americans don’t have a written financial plan and the peace of mind that comes with it. According to some studies, almost ¾ of Americans – 72% – don’t have a written financial plan.
In my opinion, there’s not much difference between an unwritten financial plan and a wish.
Not everyone who has accumulated wealth has a comprehensive financial plan. If you’re among the burgeoning group of just-arrived 401(k) millionaires, you may not have a financial plan outside of excellent savings discipline, but now is the time to start.
If you don’t have a plan, and you’re starting to work on a written one, consider the areas you’ll need to address.
Typically, core tenets of a financial plan would seek to perform tasks like understanding and increasing cash flow; minimizing taxes; protecting assets; reviewing, analyzing and rebalancing your investment portfolio; minimizing risks; even distributing your assets in the most efficient way to your heirs.
If we’ve learned anything over the past months and years, it’s that life is unpredictable.
Good planning can help reduce your anxiety about unexpected changes that life brings your way, and help keep you on track towards your goals. If you need help getting started on a written plan, find an advisor you can trust to help.