Everyone has financial dreams—like being debt-free, retiring on our own terms, owning a beach house or paying for our kids' education without breaking the bank.
To turn those dreams into reality, financial planning is indispensable. Simply having a plan can instill confidence and erase uncertainties. In a recent survey from polling firm Harris Interactive, 88% of those with comprehensive financial plans reported feeling that they have a clear financial direction. That number is almost 50% higher than those without a professional financial plan.
Now—with the dust settled from the holidays and a year of possibilities ahead—is a good time to get serious about financial planning. Financial planning has a simple purpose: to make sure your money is serving your goals. Wealth and income in and of themselves are only tools; the key is to use them to help accomplish the things that will bring you satisfaction. A professionally prepared financial plan helps you to:
- Understand your starting point. In the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life, many of us don't have a firm handle on our finances. We don't really know how our assets stack up against our debts. We're not sure if we're managing our income wisely. And often, we are unsure if we have an adequate estate plan. A qualified financial planner will methodically review your situation and let you know exactly where you stand.
- Pinpoint your destination. Our goals can remain vague until it's too late to achieve them. Financial planning helps to bring your goals—and their costs—into focus so that you can make clear choices.
- Know the way forward. A financial plan is a roadmap to your goals. It lets you know exactly what you need to do to be able to fund college, retire comfortably, buy that second house, leave a legacy and achieve your other goals. With your energy freed from wondering and worrying, you can focus on working toward your goals.
- Invest wisely. Your financial plan should inform lay the groundwork for your investment strategy by identifying your specific goals, time horizon, and comfort level with risk. It also creates a clear benchmark for success: not beating some market index, but protecting and growing your money so that your goals will be funded.
- Plan your estate. Estate planning gives you power over medical, personal, financial and legacy decisions even after you're gone. And a good plan can spare your loved ones painful uncertainty at a time when they are grieving.
If you already have a financial plan, the start of the year is a good time to review it and, if necessary, to update it. Over the years, changes in your goals, risk tolerance and personal circumstances may mean that you need a course correction.
As much as financial planning enables you to achieve goals in the future, it can help you achieve peace of mind in the present. And because your plan is the foundation of your financial security, using the services of a professional financial advisor might be the best single investment you can make. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like to discuss your financial plan.
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