I am going to guess that 5% of Americans (maybe less!) realize that October is National Financial Planning Month. I admit that these “XYZ Causes of the Month” (oh hey, “National Guide Dog Month”) or the “Kiss a Ginger Day” craze gets to be a bit much, but because financial planning is what I am in the profession of doing, I want to make a few comments on it. I want to help “spread the word” so-to-speak.
Depending on who you talk to about financial planning, you will get different responses. Talk to a tax professional, and they will tell you “what better planning to do than review your taxes”. I know plenty an insurance person and they will say “you need to review your insurance policies”. Walk into a bank and you will hear “you should be adding more to your savings accounts”. Well, I am here to say REVIEW IT ALL! I know from studies that 1) three out of four people do not have a plan and I know from many years of experience that 2) most people don’t have a discipline to stick to a plan. With that being said, I want to sum up my top 3 pointers as a takeaway:
1) Have a written plan. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t write something down…there is a good chance I don’t do it, or I forget to do it. Want to be 42% more likely to achieve your goals? Write em down says Dr. Gail Matthews. I’d say this pertains not only to finances, but also in your family relationships (lasting marriages help!) and how you want to spend your time from now until the end of time. For me, the more I see it visually, the more I react and customize my behaviors to re-focus. Otherwise, it’s just an aspiration.
2) Think long term. “Long term” has different meanings to people these days. It used to mean 20+ years, now I see people think that 6 months is long-term. Regardless of the perception, too many times have I seen people paralyzed by the negative news headlines. All we see is doom and gloom, “the end is near”, and “when will the pullback happen” type of rhetoric. Ever seen a chart of what the market does over longer periods of time? Check this site out, they appear to have compiled some of the numbers for us.
|Am I saying we are guaranteed the same (or similar) returns, or that these results will be repeated in the future? No. I am just sharing the facts.
3) Find a planner. The Financial Planning Association is a well-respected group that may be a good place to start finding a professional who you may be compatible with. Or find someone on the Certified Financial Planning website, you may have seen their recent marketing campaigns on TV. I know how to change my oil, but I don’t have the time, expertise, nor discipline to take care of it on a regular basis. I think the same pertains to your financial situation. Good advisors, with your best interests at heart, are out there. Find someone that is compatible, or heck – ask a good friend who they use. Either way, invest in a trusting relationship and make a habit of reviewing your situation regularly.
I’ll get off my soapbox now, but just know that I encourage you to address these things today to ensure a better tomorrow.