Ask people if having a well-thought-out financial plan is a good idea and most will agree. However, ask them if they, themselves, have one, and the answer is usually the opposite. Why the disparity? There are many reasons. The time commitment and the cost of the plan are two common explanations. Dig deeper and you find fear of a process that doesn’t sound fun, seems complex, and possibly reveals bad news. A good way to help you embrace the financial planning process is to make it simpler and easier to take the first step. Start by understanding that financial planning is really only two things: managing your risks and managing your assets.
What Is Risk Management?
Risk management means looking at the “what ifs” of the unexpected. What impact on your life or your family would a medical problem, a death in the family, loss of a job or income, a fire, a theft, or car accident have? Most people mitigate these types of risks with insurance. Homeowner’s insurance will help rebuild in case of a house fire or flood. Life insurance will replace income earnings from the loss of a loved-one, medical insurance for illnesses.
What Is Asset Management?
Asset management means identifying and growing your assets to meet certain goals. This involves investing, income taxes, charitable contributions, education, retirement, and transfer of the estate. Each of these areas can become very complex and detailed based on each person’s circumstances, but overall, the general theme is to have a written roadmap of where you want to go and ways to monitor if you are getting there.
The Financial Planning Process
How should you get started on the financial planning process? Take a look at the two areas of financial planning listed above and see if there is a subject matter that most interests you. Begin there. Maybe your family now has a new baby and you are concerned about providing for them if you are unable to? Maybe you have questions on long term care in case of incapacitation? Did you just start a new job with new 401k possibilities? Receive an inheritance? Need a budget?
That one issue is your opportunity to start a conversation with a qualified financial planning expert. Determine to resolve that one problem. Once you get started, the rest of the financial planning areas can be attacked as you get more comfortable with the process. You and your planner will be able to prioritize the areas that are most impactful to your situation.
As is usually the case, a comprehensive analysis would be the best approach. Gathering all of your data at one time and examining your entire financial horizon would be most efficient and worthwhile. However, taking one step at a time will also get you there.
Working With Punta Gorda Financial Planning as Your Financial Planner
Don’t be intimidated or reluctant to discover the benefits of a financial plan. Each area you cross off the list as accomplished will move you forward to achieving a sound financial future. Go ahead and take that first step.
Written by Thomas M. Geier, CPA, CFP®, PFS.
My aim is to offer clarity to your finances. I specialize in helping individuals and families determine what is most important in their financial lives, identify short and long-term goals, and make great choices for achieving comfort, security, and peace of mind.
I graduated from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, and have been a Vice President of our investment management affiliate, Geier Asset Management, Inc, since its founding in 1999. I have over 25 years' experience in financial planning and investment management and am licensed as a Certified Financial Planner® professional, a CPA, and Personal Financial Specialist. I am member of the Personal Financial Planning section of the American Institute of CPS's and Florida Chapter of the Financial Planning Association.