What is financial planning ?
Financial planning is an ongoing process that will alleviate your financial stress, meet your immediate needs, and assist you in building a nest egg for long-term goals such as retirement. Financial planning is critical since it enables you to maximize your assets and ensure you achieve your future goals.
Financial planning is not just for the wealthy; everyone can benefit from creating a roadmap for their financial future. You can create a financial plan on your own or with the assistance of a financial planner. Financial planning assistance is now more affordable and accessible than ever before thanks to online businesses such as robo-advisors.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TYPICAL FINANCIAL ADVICE AND PLANNING
With verve, optimism, and the zeal of a genuine believer, I entered the world of financial planning. At first, financial planning seemed to be exactly what I desired — an opportunity to succeed by assisting others financially. However, disappointment set in over time.
Financial planning sounds reasonable, and it is surely preferable to doing nothing! However, as I discovered, it was all based on educated guesses, misguided optimism, and mathematical half-truths.
Individuals are led to believe they may earn a specific rate of return in the stock market. (Some financial gurus even guarantee investors an average annual return of 12% in the stock market—a figure that is not based on historical data!)
Clients are educated about the wonders of compound interest, but they are unlikely to be informed about
- how fees also compound over time,
- how “average” rates of return don’t equal “actual” rates of return,
- the fact that target-date funds don’t protect people from risk as assumed, or
- why speed trading has made today’s market more volatile than the stock market our parents invested in.
Additionally, investors are pushed to delay taxes without contemplating the potential consequences of the deferrals when “their” money is really spent.
Or, in the worst-case scenario, investors are persuaded that “your tax rate will be reduced when you retire,” when the exact opposite may be true! (Who believes that taxes will be reduced or that they will become easier to pay if you cease working?)
Then there’s the mathematics. Allowing the majority of people to believe they can work for 40 years, save a small proportion of their income, and then quit and “retire” for decades of high inflation is a terrible fiction. Nonetheless, this is the cultural expectation, what we believe should occur. (This drives me insane; I even published a book on it called “Busting Retirement Lies,” which you can purchase on Amazon.)
Behind the scenes, those of us paying attention noticed that actual figures rarely matched estimates.
For the majority of people, the numbers just do not work. Individuals do not save enough. Many people save merely 2% of their salary, believing they can “make it up” in the stock market with extraordinary rates of return. They, however, are unable to.
They discover that their investments are underperforming. Markets fluctuate. Inflation is underestimated, as is the massive cost of taxes and those “insignificant minor fees” (which, for many investors, might equal half of their retirement account… or MORE!)
What happens if the numbers “do not function”? What should planners say to a client who simply does not earn enough or has insufficient savings to ever achieve their retirement goals? The truth is a squeaky-clean secret:
Planners are trained how to manipulate numbers in many financial planning environments in order to make financial plans “work.”
Typical financial planners and brokers may use the stock market’s average rate of return because the actual rates of return (which are lower than the averages) do not appear as spectacular.
The time periods utilized to generate historical market averages are carefully chosen to paint the best picture possible of the stock market.
There are illustrations produced that do not include all of the fees. Alternatively, taxes Alternatively, realistic inflation rates. Alternatively, investor conduct. Or, alternatively, the client’s genuine potential for lifespan.
As the adage goes, “The devil is in the details.” That is unquestionably true in the case of conventional financial planning and counseling. The flashy graphs and charts impart knowledge, while the tiny print obliterates it.
It is past time to inform the public about the truth regarding financial planning, retirement, and the markets we believe will save us.
The TRUTH is that financial planning’s suppositions are based on a blend of speculation, mathematical forecasts, and wishful thinking.
The truth is that even when people believe they are “on track,” they are frequently saving insufficiently.
The truth is that even millionaires who have adhered to conventional financial advice are now fearful of spending their principle for fear of outliving their wealth.
The truth is that the majority of people only have enough savings to maintain their current standard of living for about a decade before becoming dependent on the government or their family.
The truth is that the majority of “normal” planners and brokers cross their fingers and pray that the stock market does not crash out of desperation.
However, the issues extend DEEPER THAN irrational assumptions and optimistic math!
Additionally, the truth is that financial planners and advisors are financially rewarded when they persuade clients to take a risk and keep their money!
(This is simply how the system works; advisors are frequently compensated based on “assets under management,” which are typically at risk in the stock market.)
There are also numerous “half-truths.” (as well as untruths.)
While conventional wisdom suggests that you should “get a decent career and max out your 401(k),” this is rarely how wealth is earned.
The emphasis is on accumulation, despite the fact that individuals LIVE ON CASH FLOW.
Individuals are advised to pay cash for their automobiles and payoff their mortgages early rather than put their excess cash to work on cash-flowing assets.
Financial experts teach “Buy long term and invest the difference,” despite the fact that numerous wealthy and successful people throughout history have done quite the opposite-and continue to do so. (At times, the right response to the discussion over whole life vs. term is “both.”)
Instead of considering the notion that people can be passionately productive at any age, retirement is presumed.
People are taught to assume that, despite inflation and lifestyle demands, they will spend less in retirement. (As my husband frequently reminds me, “Every day is Saturday, and you’re supposed to spend LESS!”)
Despite logic to the contrary, financial estimates imply that retirees will be subject to a “lower tax rate.” (This and the preceding myths continue to exist because they are necessary for financial plans to “work”-at least on paper.)
Then there’s “Plan B” – when unexpected life events derail even the best of plans.
When things go wrong at work, the stock market, a marriage, or a rental house, individuals require money. And when individuals require cash, they frequently raid their 401(k) or IRA accounts, incurring penalties, income taxes at an unsuitable moment, and even backdoor sales costs.
Additionally, retirement savings are ineffective as emergency cash.
Ironically, even the best-laid financial strategies can occasionally leave people UNREADY to weather a financial storm! According to Bloomberg.com, over 10% of Americans with retirement savings are forced to cash out a portion or all of their investments early, resulting in a $57 billion loss in 2011.
The reality is that “planning” in general can be a joke, because when does anything ever go according to plan? What is the proverb — “Man planned, God laughs”? That is really true!
A few years into my work as a financial planner, I came to a difficult discovery:
Financial planning in 7 steps
1. Start by setting financial goals
Your financial goals serve as the foundation for a sound financial plan. If you approach financial planning from the perspective of what your money can accomplish for you—whether it’s purchasing a house or assisting you in retiring early—saving will feel more intentional.
Make your financial objectives inspirational. How do you envision your life in five years? How about in ten or twenty years? Are you interested in owning a car or a house? Are there children in the photograph? How do you envision your retirement life?
You begin with objectives because they will motivate you to take the following steps and serve as a beacon of light as you try to make those objectives a reality.
2. Keep track of your money and reinvest it in your ambitions.
Develop an understanding of your monthly cash flow—what comes in and what goes out. A precise picture is critical when developing a financial strategy, as it might identify opportunities to increase savings or debt pay-down. Keeping track of where your money goes can assist you in developing short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives.
An immediate plan is usually to create a budget. NerdWallet advises the following budgeting principles: 50% of your take-home earnings should be spent on necessities (housing, utilities, transportation, and other recurring payments), 30% on wants (eating out, clothing, and entertainment), and 20% on savings and debt repayment. Reducing credit card or other high-interest debt is a popular intermediate goal, while saving for retirement is a common long-term goal.
3. Make arrangements for an employer match.
In the event that you meet with a financial advisor, he or she will likely ask about your company-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), and whether your employer will match some of your contributions.
True, 401(k) contributions reduce your take-home pay in the short term, but it’s worth it to contribute enough to earn the full match, as the match is free money. The following table details how much you should contribute to a 401(k) (k).
4. Make certain that situations do not deteriorate into disasters.
Cash savings for emergency needs is the cornerstone of any financial plan. You can start small; $500 is plenty to cover minor emergencies and repairs, preventing an unexpected expenditure from piling up on your credit card. Your next aim could be $1,000, followed by a month’s worth of essential living expenses and so forth.
Developing credit is another approach to cushioning your budget against shocks. A good credit score provides you with options when you need them, such as the ability to obtain a reasonable interest rate on a car loan. In addition, it might help you save money by getting lower insurance rates and not having to pay for utilities.
5. Get a handle on your high-interest debt.
Paying off “toxic” high-interest debt, such as credit card balances, payday loans, title loans, and rent-to-own payments, is a critical element in any financial plan. Some of these may have such exorbitant interest rates that you end up repaying two or three times what you borrowed.
If you’re struggling with revolving debt, a debt consolidation loan or debt management plan may be able to help you consolidate numerous monthly bills into one with a lower interest rate.
6. Invest to increase the value of your savings.
Investing appears to be a privilege reserved for the wealthy or for those who are established in their work and family life. That is not the case.
Investing can be as straightforward as contributing to a 401(k) plan and as painless as opening a brokerage account (many have no minimum to get started).
- Pension programs sponsored by employers Contribute gradually toward the IRS limit of $19,500 per year if you have a 401(k), 403(b), or similar plan. If you are 50 years of age or older, the cap increases to $26,000 per year.
- IRAs can be traditional or Roth. These tax-advantaged investing accounts can help you save an additional $6,000 per year (or $7,000 if you are over 50) for retirement. This NerdWallet IRA guide will assist you in selecting the appropriate form of IRA and demonstrating how to start an account.
- 529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings schemes. These state-sponsored plans offer tax-free growth and distributions for eligible school costs.
7. Create a moat around your financial well-being to safeguard and grow it
Each of these actions builds a moat around you and your family to protect them from financial misfortunes. As your career grows, continue to strengthen your financial moat by implementing the following:
- Contributing more to your retirement accounts.
- Increasing the size of your emergency fund until it contains three to six months’ worth of basic living expenditures.
- Using insurance helps safeguard your financial stability in the event of a car accident or illness. Life insurance safeguards those who rely on your income. Term life insurance, which typically covers a term of 10 to 30 years, is an excellent fit for the majority of people’s needs.
break the fear cycle and get started in investing
The most difficult aspect is getting started.
This may be particularly true in the case of investment.
The stakes are really high. There is plenty to learn. Other individuals appear to be smarter, wealthier, and more capable than you.
Historically, investing was reserved for the wealthy.
The good news is that the financial services landscape has shifted dramatically, “said Brent Weiss, a certified financial planner and co-founder of Baltimore’s Facet Wealth. “Businesses have worked to make investment more reasonable and accessible.”
If you’re unfamiliar with investing, it can feel impossible to make any move at all.
However, the initial step is crucial. After all, it has to begin somewhere.
Weiss’ recommendation is straightforward. Begin small.
“Take the first step,” Weiss advised. “If your aim is to save $1 million by the time you retire, you must begin with one dollar.”
1. Set a goal
To begin with, define your objectives.
If you want to comprehend the stock market, you should begin reading. Join forces with a person who shares your interests and read one article every day.
If you’re saving for a specific event, such as retirement or college tuition, make a list of what you want, how long it will take to get there, and how much it should cost.
Oftentimes, simply documenting your plans helps establish accountability and strengthens your dedication to a project.
2. Brush up your skills
Marcello DePascale, an accredited investment fiduciary with the Barnum Financial Group in Shelton, Connecticut, believes that people are unable to learn about investing due to a lack of exposure rather than fear of the unknown. “Financial education should begin in our schools,” he stated.
You may find that familiarizing yourself with some of the fundamental concepts (stocks, bonds, risk, and return) gives you a sense of security.
“Find an educational resource to help you navigate the unknown,” advised Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner at SoFi, a personal finance startup based in New York. “Whether it’s a podcast, a blog, or a one-on-one meeting with a planner, acquiring knowledge is quite beneficial.”
3.Conduct an analysis of this
Another excellent first step is to identify the habits that are impeding your progress. Then, devise strategies for circumventing them.
For instance, if you feel as though you never have enough money left over to save, reverse your spending and saving priorities. Pay yourself first—by depositing a certain amount into your savings account—and then figure out how to spend the remainder.
Keeping track of your expenditures is not for everyone. Some people despise the idea of recording every transaction. Fortunately, there are no absolute rules for personal money management. Use your imagination to reward yourself with gold stars or to fill up a visual chart to track your progress.
4. Choose a strategy
To accomplish your objective, choose the route that appeals to you the most.
Consider your purchasing habits and make minor adjustments, such as bringing lunch to work one or two days a week.
Weiss recommends that you begin saving $100 per month or 1% of your income. Additionally, keep in mind that every little bit counts. “You will develop positive behaviors and a sense of accomplishment, which will compound over time,” Weiss explained.
5. No need to panic
Volatility in the stock market—a fancy way of saying the market experiences significant ups and downs—also contributes to some people’s reluctance to invest.
It’s never easy, DePascale notes, “but the news can intensify those anxieties.”
The most effective technique to calm your anxiety is to make a strategy that includes the appropriate dates for your objectives. With decades till retirement, for example, your portfolio should be able to weather some of these market tremors.
6. Make a note of it and then forget about it
It is not simply our money that is at stake; it is our money mentality, as Weiss puts it. For example, what is out of sight is out of memory.
That can be a very good thing when it comes to your money. “Having an automated savings plan that deposits money into an investing account on a monthly basis [is ideal],” Weiss explained. “We need to cultivate healthy habits and establish routines that protect us from the emotional errors that the majority of customers make while investing.”
CHECK OUT: How did you get into investing
Bottom Line :
If you’re unfamiliar with investing, it can feel impossible to make any move at all. However, the initial step is crucial. Identify the habits that are impeding your progress and devise strategies for overcoming them. Find an educational resource to help you navigate the unknown. There are no absolute rules for personal money management.
Use your imagination to reward yourself with gold stars or fill up a visual chart to track your progress. Every little bit counts; there is no need to panic if you’re not already on the path to financial success. If you’re saving for a specific event, such as retirement or college tuition, make a list of what you want and how much it will cost. Identify habits that are impeding your progress and devise strategies for circumventing them. Use your imagination to reward yourself with gold stars or fill up a visual chart to track your progress.
Investing in the stock market can make you anxious, but there is no need to panic. Weiss recommends that you begin saving $100 per month or 1% of your income. With decades till retirement, for example, your portfolio should be able to weather some market tremors.