This month we are focusing on Financial Planning and ultimately, Financial Goals!
When setting financial goals, it may be helpful to categorize them in the following way:
Defensive (Protection) Goals:
- Increase your “just in case” cushion. This can be accomplished by setting up an automatic monthly transfer from a checking account to a savings or non-qualified investment account. Quarterly bonuses or periodic lump sums can also be used to build up this buffer.
- Review your insurance policies. Make sure you have enough of the right type of insurance and that it’s competitively priced.
- Make sure your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations are current. We frequently hear news stories about famous individuals whose estates are a mess. Their assets are tied up in probate and the family is fighting over who gets what. A good estate planning attorney can provide guidance and help avoid the hassle and grief of poor planning.
Offensive (Accumulation) Goals:
- Increase your “just in case” cushion. It isn’t only for extra expenses and emergencies. As clients increase their liquid assets, it creates space for other opportunities, options, and adventures.
- Increase your retirement plan contributions. Contribution limits have increased in 2023, for both workplace and individual retirement plans. Know the limits and adjust accordingly.
- Max out your Health Savings Account (if you have access to one). Contributions are pre-tax and grow tax deferred. If used for qualified medical expenses, the distributions are tax-free. This triple tax benefit makes HSAs highly beneficial.
Fun (Aspirational) Goals:
- Spend some money… with responsible saving and planning, of course! Hop on Pinterest and create a dream board. Write down your bucket list in a journal. A new year brings fresh opportunity to schedule fun into the calendar.
- Give and Share. Helping others can be deeply meaningful and it fills our bucket, too. This can include charitable donations or sharing our time and talents.
"There is nothing permanent except change." – Heraclitus
What is a financial plan? In its ultimate simplicity, a financial plan is a road map to help you get from where you are through a multitude of financial destinations in your life.
Think about a road map. It takes you from point A to point B, over a river, through a mountain pass and ultimately to your destination. With how fast things progress, the moment that a map is printed, the world has changed. Maybe a bridge is down, mountain pass closed, or some other obstacle has made the map unreliable.
Financial plans used to be handled this way. Go see your financial person, provide a bunch of data, print out a 56-page packet and bind it to make it pretty. Now you're expected to take the contents as financial gospel - follow this plan and your life will be complete. However, just like the printed roadmap, as soon as it's produced, it's instantly unreliable.
Enter technology. Open your smart phone, set your destination and the app tells you where to go. It will navigate you around downed bridges, closed overpasses and avoids traffic. Your new "road map" will get you to your destination with much more accuracy and confidence than ever in history. It's amazing what technology can do.
A financial plan should help you achieve goals, manage obstacles, and live the confident life. Like road maps, they were hardcopy. Life changes too fast for them to stay relevant once produced. Think about everything you own. House, cars, every stock, bond, bank account and insurance policy. Some rarely change and some change by the second.
At Prosperity Advisors, our team is highly educated, heavily credentialed and very experienced. We've been there, done that and seen it all. We know if a plan works or not. That confidence is a tremendous benefit of all our knowledge. Technology backs up our financial planning know-how and illustrates your results. You can see, feel, and understand why we're confident in your plan - or if you need to re-route somewhere along the way so you don't end up stranded on some remote mountain top.
It may seem time consuming and painstaking for us to gather all the things. Having all your accounts organized, your insurance policies updated, your retirement accounts feeding live into the system ensures accuracy. Planning for big expenses, aspirational goals, trips, and tracking when you want to be financially independent keeps it relevant. Yes, there can be a lot of information for us to complete the plan.
The most important part about completing the financial plan – this is when our most impactful work begins. The plan establishes a framework to make financial decisions, overcome obstacles and arrive at each destination throughout life with a high level of predictability. This way you can successfully arrive at all your life's destinations. With technology, we can get there with more accuracy and confidence than ever before in history. It's amazing what technology can help us do.
Goals can be more than mere tasks to be completed. They can also be directional in nature and help us create a confident and satisfying life. Additionally, achieving our goals can be deeply important for a variety of personal and emotional reasons.
Happily, many of life’s most joyful and meaningful moments cost little or no money. If they do have a cost, check in with your Financial Advisor. We’ll make any needed adjustments to your financial plan and investment strategy to help you achieve your goals. We are teamed up to help you live the confident life!