The correct investment strategy and sound financial advice will determine how you live today and in the future. There are six stages to develop a financial plan and to carry out personal money management. From beginning to end, a certified financial planner professional guides you through the financial planning process - keeping in view your current financial situation and economic background.
1) Identify your Financial Situation
The first stage of the financial planning process constitutes assessment on what is happening in your life right now and how you can change your financial situation. The key areas to reflect are:
Household budgeting –This is an important area as after calculating the monthly costs spent at home, you’d be able to figure out how much you are left with to save or invest.
Family commitments and Living Expenses – Are you single or married? Do you have children? What are their living and lifestyle expenses?
Tax Standing and Strategies – How do you manage taxes? Are you living or working abroad?
Current investments or saving reserves – How much savings or debts you have right now?
Other Financial obligations – These may involve some miscellaneous costs you might be planning ahead for future such as:
• A wedding or property purchase
• Emergency funds to cover for household catastrophes
• Family Funds reserve in case something happens with your job or you
• Is your retirement just around the corner?
This step serves as a foundation for developing your plan and gives you a good reference point to achieve your short as well as long term financial goals.
2) Determine Financial Goals
Experts say when you have identified your goals; you’re most likely to achieve them. Highlighting the financial goals serves as an important aspect of financial planning. Subjected to what phase in life you have reached, these goals could be:
• Get married and initiate a family
• Purchase or pay off a property
• Ensure your children get a good education
• Make your reserves and investments tax proficient
• Get retirement with enough income on hands to enjoy life ahead
The sole purpose of this step is to differentiate your needs from your wants. Apart from these, the goals or objectives may range from spending your entire income into developing a long lasting investment program for future financial security. However, you must select which goals you need to pursue.
3) Identify Alternatives for Investment
After a thorough understanding of your financial needs has been taken and all the appropriate financial goals have been cemented down, next thing is the investment alternatives or specific recommendations from your financial planner.
By taking a good look at your short, medium and long term goals, an integrated investment strategy would be developed based on your set requirements. Furthermore the objectives would be looked upon again and it will be analyzed how far you are down the road to achieving your short and long term financial goals. Taking in account your timeframe, cash flow, risk tolerance, current insurance coverage, tax strategies and investment goals, a range of ideas and financial planning alternatives would be presented in order to determine which one suits you the best. This will help you produce more actual and satisfying decisions.
4) Evaluate Alternatives
The proposed recommendations are then further assessed. This is your chance to discuss the alternatives face-to-face and take necessary actions bearing in mind your current situation, financial standings and personal interests. If you have any concerns regarding your financial planner’s recommendations, those can be altered and revised. Alternatives can be closed down based on the decisions you make. For instance:
The idea to carry on your education attests you cannot do a full time job. Decision making thus stands as an ongoing process which works side by side with your personal and financial situation so lost opportunities as a result of your decision making should always be kept in mind while analyzing the alternatives.
While evaluating the options you might end up having uncertain ideas. For instance, choosing your career over studies involves risk. How can you ensure if it’s rewarding in your future?
Other financial decisions involve a comparatively low degree of risk such as saving your money in a savings account or purchasing some object of great value with it. The option of losing that object is low in such scenarios.
Thus while making financial decisions; finding out risks and evaluating them is tricky. You need to collect data based on your experience and the experiences of others as well. Decision-making process will require you to frequently update your knowledge politically, economically and socially so you can make informed decisions.
5) Put Together a Financial Plan and Implement
Once you are content with the recommendations and feel good to proceed, the implementation of the plan would be carried out. This step of financial planning process can be considered as an action plan where you will pick ways to achieve your short, immediate or long term goals. Often taken as the toughest step for some people, but makes a huge difference in the long run!
The key thing to consider here is to carry it out as early as you can. The longer it’s left unattended, the longer it will take you to grow your wealth – ultimately a great shortfall in your savings when you retire.
6) Review, Re-evaluate and Monitor The Plan
Financial planning is an on-going and dynamic process and it’s unlikely that your financial condition will remain same throughout your life. You need to assess your financial decisions periodically as changed personal, economic and social factors will require you to alter your decisions to fit into your new situation.
As you progress through the different phases of your life, you financial needs will be reflected and financial process will serve as a tool to let you adjust to these changes. Monitoring your plans will help you prioritize your decisions and make necessary adjustments that will bring your financial needs and goals in line with your current life situation.