Published by Colin Casey CFP®
A great financial plan is based on your personal financial goals and life objectives. Depending on what these goals and objectives are, there will be an evaluation process within seven categories: Budgets, Investments, Benefits, Retirement Plans, Insurance, Taxes and Estate Plans. Below is a list of questions you should ask yourself while assessing each category.
- Budgets – Are you currently living within your means? Does your income exceed your expenses? Do you have an idea of how much you spend on various expense categories monthly/annually? Do you have an actual budget? Do you have a way of tracking your expenses? Can you eliminate or decrease any of your discretionary expenses? What percentage of your income do you save monthly/annually? Do you want to spend more on something you are not spending money on now, for example travel or entertainment?
- Investments – What is your appropriate asset allocation? Why do you have the existing asset allocation within your portfolio? Do you need to be more aggressive? Can you afford to be more conservative? What investment management fees are you currently paying? What purpose does XYZ investment serve in your portfolio? Wha processes have you used to evaluate that XYZ investment is appropriate in your portfolio? What types of tax treatment do your investments have?
- Benefits – Does your employer offer benefits? If yes, are you taking full advantage of your employer offered benefits? Is your spouse taking advantage of their offered benefits on your plan or vice versa?
- Retirement Plans – When would you like to retire? What income do you need in retirement? Have you considered inflation during retirement? What are you going to do during retirement? At what age will you begin taking social security benefits? Do you know how to maximize your social security benefits? From which investment accounts will you withdraw additional income during retirement?
- Insurance – Do you have home, auto, health, disability, life or long term care insurance? If yes, have you evaluated if you need these insurances? If no, why don’t you have these insurances?
- Taxes – Do you work with a CPA? Are you maximizing pre-tax and post-tax retirement vehicles? Do you live somewhere with high property taxes? Can you withdraw assets from a more tax-friendly place?
- Estate Plans – Do you have a will, trust and power of attorney document? If you died today, are you comfortable with how your assets are currently titled? Who would take care of your kids if you were to pass away suddenly? Would you owe estate taxes? Do you have a beneficiary designated correctly?
How many of the above questions can you answer confidently? If there are particular areas of your financial plan where you are struggling or need more advice, we are here to help at Stonebridge Financial. Begin your financial planning journey by taking our risk tolerance quiz at: client.stonebridgefinancialpartners.com/survey , completing your client profile, and scheduling a visit to our office!