Managing personal finances today is more complicated and more important than ever. Sensible financial management means much more than budgeting and putting money away for retirement. It means being equipped to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes; figuring out how to build assets and staying ahead of inflation; and choosing wisely from a constantly widening field of savings, investment and insurance options. When it comes to finances, we are faced with more pressures and more possibilities than ever before.
The good news is that as complex as today’s financial world is, there’s no real mystery to sound personal money management. What you need is a solid foundation of organization and decision-making, plus the willingness to put those two things into action. We’ll talk about those core principles in just a minute.
Effective financial management involves certain procedures that you don’t usually learn from your parents or friends—and unfortunately they aren’t currently taught in our schools. It’s more than just a matter of gathering enough information and then making a logical decision. In fact, for many people, the constant barrage of economic news, fragmented financial information and investment product advertisements is part of the problem. Information overload can be a major obstacle to sorting out choices and making wise decisions.
Over the years we’ve developed a personal financial management system that we use to help our clients save valuable time and money, while providing a systematic approach to help them better manage their finances. Our process focuses on staying organized, staying aware of money issues, and making deliberate choices about the ways to spend, save, insure and invest assets, instead of simply following emotions or “going with the flow.”
Everyone has primary financial documents—birth certificates, marriage certificates, bank statements, investment and superannuation statements, trust deeds, property titles, tax returns ,insurance policies, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, passwords, digital paperwork, etc. We help our clients organize this information and keep it in a safe central location that ties into their paper and digital filing systems.
2. Net Worth
Know where you stand by inventorying what’s owned and what’s owed; doing this at least annually on a set date is a good approach
Gain control of cash flow by spending according to a plan, not spending impulsively.
4. Employment Benefits
Understand and fully utilize employment benefits, the “hidden pay check.” Any dollar amounts that employers contribute toward things like life insurance, superannuation plans and other benefits save money that you don’t need to expend yourself
5. Goal Setting
Before you begin the financial planning process, we ask our clients what’s really important financially and personally. These are key elements of planning for your future; they affect the options, strategies and implementation decisions.
6. Financial Independence & Retirement Planning
A comfortable retirement, perhaps at an early age, is one of the most common reasons people become interested in financial planning. Determine how much money is a reasonable nest egg to reach and maintain your financial independence, then determine the right strategy to make that goal a reality.
7. Major Expenditures Planning
A home, a car, and a child’s or grandchild’s school and/or tertiary education—these are all big-ticket items that are best planned for in advance. Develop sound financial strategies early on for effectively achieving the funding need for those big bills down the road.
8. Investments Planning
For most of us, wise investing is the key to achieving and maintaining our financial independence as well as our other financial goals. Establish and refresh investment goals, risk tolerance and asset allocation models that best suit your situation. Then invest your funds efficiently in a broadly diversified, disciplined and structured way.
9. Tax Planning
Your financial planning should include tax considerations, regardless of your level of wealth. Proactively take advantage of opportunities to minimize tax obligations.
10. Insurance Planning
Decide what to self-insure and which risks to pass off to insurance companies—and at what price you’re willing to do so.
11. Estate Planning
Develop or update your estate plans. If you get sick or die without an up-to-date estate plan, the management and distribution of assets can become a time-consuming and costly financial challenge for loved ones and survivors. In our experience, this can also lead to family conflict which is not the kind of legacy most people would wish to leave if they had a choice.
In our experience, most of the people referred to us do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families. This makes estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. Estate and financial planning is not just for the wealthy; it is an important process for everyone. With advance planning, issues such as guardianship of children, long-term care needs, wealth preservation, distribution of retirement assets, management of bill-paying and assets, can all be handled with sensitivity and care and at a reasonable cost.
Staying organized and planning wisely are the keys to financial success. Short of winning the lottery or inheriting millions, few people can attain and maintain financial security without some forethought, strategy and ongoing management. Now has never been a better time to review finances and update your financial plans.