Securing Your Financial Future: Key Considerations and Questions for a Solid Plan
How to a create comprehensive plan that consider priorities, reviews assets and plans for family, retirement and philanthropy.
Whether you are thinking about job security, your retirement or your financial portfolio, uncertainty abounds. However, I would argue there is no better time than right now to think about your financial future.
Simply counting on investment performance is not a complete financial plan. Financial planning looks different for everyone — and it should. Everyone has individual priorities, philosophies and values. All of this should be reflected in a unique financial plan that fits your lifestyle as well as your short- and long-term goals.
As you look at putting a financial plan in place or updating your current plan, here are some topics to consider and questions to ask.
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Look inward to identify your top concerns and emotions
Experiencing difficult life moments can knock us off balance. Before making any big changes or decisions, identify the emotions and concerns you have, and any you may be harboring for your future.
During unsettled economic times, we tend to react quickly — maybe out of fear, or simply because it seems ineffective to do nothing. When it comes to long-term financial plans, doing nothing can be considered an action. While quickly changing your investments, savings or spending because of uncertainty may help your day-to-day finances, it could impact the long view significantly. That’s why we recommend taking stock of how you’re feeling before you start digging into your financial choices.
Start with a financial review
A solid financial review with an advisor will help you recalibrate where you are today and where you want to go by looking at your current spending and saving habits to help establish your plan’s baseline.
You will review your current assets, debts and income to determine the variables that can influence your plan’s success. Once you have created a foundational financial plan, you will start to discuss your concerns, passions, plans and issues to help shape and define your financial journey.
Put family first
Thinking about your family, or the family you’d like to have in the future, is an important part of your financial plan. Whether you are planning to have children or thinking about how you will pay for their education, there are many ways to start preparing today. This can include starting a health savings account (HSA) for future medical expenses, looking into financial options for adoption, flexible savings account (FSA) considerations for childcare, and starting a 529 or other higher-education savings plan.
Career and lifestyle decisions
What does your career trajectory look like? Do you plan to retire at your current company, or have you always wanted to explore a different career that involves your passions? Consider how are you planning for these wants now so you can enjoy them in the future.
Conversations about your wants and expectations regarding your career, travel and lifestyle should be factored into your financial plan. Philanthropy should also be a part of this conversation. Do you want to contribute your time and money to nonprofits that matter to you? Have you thought about how to do this on a weekly, monthly or annual basis? This conversation will also lead into your estate planning and the legacy you want to leave after you are gone.
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No matter the age you want to retire, it’s important to know what you need to get there. Planning for your retirement should be an active exercise, not a passive conversation, which looks at your 401(k) and other investment accounts every year.
Discuss what your pre-retirement and post-retirement plans look like for you and your family. By thinking and talking about your long-term dreams, you can start planning and budgeting today.
The first step in your financial plan
I know it may be hard to think about long-term plans during times of uncertainty. But I encourage you to think about your financial future and what that looks like in the years to come.
Consider partnering with a financial advisor to help you reach your short- and long-term objectives. When you have a financial advisor who is focused on your unique journey, he or she can help you discover your areas of strength and identify improvements to maximize success. A financial advisor will help optimize your lifestyle, establish your legacy and build your wealth for today and the long term.
Nikki Newton is the president of UMB Private Wealth Management and can be reached at Nikki.Newton@umb.com.