October is Financial Planning Month: Is Your Plan on Track?

“Most people don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan”.
—John L. Beckley

Did you know that October is Financial Planning Month? I’m glad this critical topic is getting more attention. Research shows that people spend more time planning their next vacation than planning how to finance the remaining decades of their lives.

Saving is essential, but just putting money away and keeping your fingers crossed can’t always protect you. You’ve probably met people who were blindsided by an unexpected disability, death, or job loss, which then changed their standard of living. Or even without an adverse event, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not likely to end up there.

That’s why you need financial planning!

How Do You Start a Financial Plan?
Financial planning begins by creating a clear picture of your finances as they stand today. That means documenting your cash flow, income, emergency savings, debt, and long-term investments.

This is just the beginning of the financial plan, but even so, it’s rare—outside of a financial plan—that we get such a clear snapshot of our financial health. We find that many clients, regardless of wealth, rarely look at their money this way.

That usually means missed opportunities to spot problem areas early. It also can mean missed chances to reduce costs and maximize your savings.

After you have that financial snapshot, it’s a lot easier to identify ways to trim unnecessary expenses.

It is also an excellent time to double-check that you have an adequate emergency fund. If not, look for ways to increase your cash reserves to at least four to six months’ worth of your expenses.

That’s another benefit of planning: actually putting aside emergency reserves. So when there’s an unexpected significant expense, it doesn’t knock you off course.

Identify and Realize Your Goals
But a good financial plan can do a lot more for you. After you understand your current financial picture, you can start considering your short and long-term goals.
Ask yourself:

> Where do I see myself living and working in five and ten years?
> When would I reasonably like to retire (or achieve financial independence)?
> Are there other large purchases I’d like to plan for, such as a second home?

After you see where you want to end up, you can reverse engineer what you need to do to get there. Through that process, you’ll identify specific action items, such as bumping up your savings or spending less.

Don’t Forget About Defense
Just like in sports, you need defense as well as offense. Defensive strategies that should be part of your financial plan include:

> Insurance protection, so an unexpected event doesn’t knock your entire plan off course.
> Tax strategies, which can help you keep more of what you earn.
> Estate planning strategies, to provide protection and tax benefits as well as help you pass on your wealth more tax-efficiently.

Most people need the help of a qualified financial planner to address these areas. As your wealth grows, professional advice can help you achieve more and ensure you are also protecting your assets effectively.

Tracking Your Progress Is Key
After you’ve created your financial plan, don’t just put it on the shelf. You should revisit it quarterly to track your progress. This way, you’ll know if you’re still on track to reach your goals.

If you’re not on course, you’ll find out while there’s still time to make adjustments.

Get Started Now!
As you can see, a financial plan along with regularly scheduled checkups can help you maximize the odds of achieving your dreams.

Of course, many people don’t have this type of financial plan in place. While the best time to start was early in life, there’s a second-best time to start: now!

The opinions voiced in this material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice to any individual. Consult your legal, tax, and/or financial advisor to determine what is appropriate for your situation.


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As a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), Partnership Wealth Management is committed to providing our clients with financial planning and wealth management services to help them work towards their financial goals. At Partnership Wealth Management, we have a long history of working with the LGBT community. Among the many services we offer are financial planning and estate planning strategies for gay and lesbian couples. Financial planning is an important part of preparing for the future; contact us today to get started.

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