Building for the Future, Enjoying the Present
Financial planning can be broken into the following steps:
- Identifying and prioritizing goals.
- Itemizing assets, liabilities, resources, timelines and commitments.
- Studying the alternative strategies and products which can be used to achieve one's objectives.
- Analyzing the costs, benefits, risks, advantages, and disadvantages of the different strategies and products, so that informed decisions can be made.
- Implementing decisions through the purchase of investment or insurance products. This puts a plan into action. A plan is helpful only if it is put into action.
- Monitoring the products and strategies, and making adjustments as necessary. Change is the only constant. Plans, products, and strategies can become obsolete if they are not adjusted to accommodate the passage of time and changes in interest rates, investment and business cycles, tax and business laws, and the evolution of investment products.
“People do not plan to fail, but they do fail to plan.”
Financial planning is a process, not a book.
A financial plan is often presented as a product, such as a three-ring binder, usually an inch or more thick with text, graphs, and charts. While there may be interesting and useful information in such a book, care should be taken on two fronts. First, a financial plan is an on-going process, not a static document. Second, projections about accumulation results, investment earnings, and the impact of inflation need to be seen as rough guides only. There is no accuracy to such projections because the assumptions supporting the projections change the minute the document is printed.
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