We all look forward to vacation time with our family. Flights and hotels are booked. Entertainment and special meals are planned. We plan out each day of the vacation from morning to night to get the most out of every fun-packed minute. There is a considerable amount of time, research, and energy put into planning the vacation. Generally, there is considerable cost to the family, too. Yet how much time each year is dedicated to the overall financial plan for your family?
Here is some expert advice as you focus on financial planning for your family.
While this sounds simple, it becomes more complicated as goals are articulated and shared with a spouse. When and where do you want to retire? Do you want to buy a second home or downsize? Do you want to spend every last penny before you die or leave an inheritance for your children or grandchildren? Do you want to save for college education for children and /or grandchildren?
Working years are accumulation years. This is your opportunity to save for your goals. Once you retire, you start spending down the assets you saved. There is little or no opportunity to grow your nest egg once you stop working. The more you can save today, the sooner you can begin to achieve your financial goals, whatever they may be.
Work with an investment advisor to develop a diversified portfolio. Investments need to address both asset allocation (i.e. stocks, bonds and cash) and location (i.e. suitable for retirement accounts or taxable accounts). There are tax ramifications that are often overlooked. Investing can be confusing. Mutual funds or ETFs with different names may be invested in similar indexes. Even different indexes can be invested in similar assets. Investing is a complicated process that should not be left to a “best guess.”
Work with an attorney to draft and sign estate planning documents including wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney and documents to appoint a guardian, if applicable. Shockingly, many people never get around to this step of their financial planning. In this case, what most people fail to realize is that by not making a decision, they are allowing someone else to make a decision for them.
Insurance needs have to be reviewed. Work with a professional to identify needs, such as life, disability and long term care insurance. You may need none, some or all types of insurance. Or, you may be paying too much for a plan that you do not need or can get for less money. A missing piece could stop your family from living the life you dream for them and leave them with a burden too heavy to bear.
As we all know, time flies. We are pulled in many directions with work, kids, parents, friends, vacations, etc. and rarely find the time to focus on ourselves. The financial well-being of your family needs to be your number one priority. Don’t wait! Take the time to focus on your financial needs and prioritize goals.
It is easy to find opportunities to spend money – home improvements, home repairs, new cars, clothing, “treats” and toys all sound so inviting and glamorous. There is always the latest and greatest car, bathroom remodel, kitchen makeover, etc. It is important to budget and plan for expenses rather than spending beyond your means and jeopardizing your retirement.
Every family has different resources and needs. Some families may have family money or expected inheritances that allow for additional spending. Others may not be effective savers or may not have done the planning to confirm they have the resources to last through retirement. Others still may be relying on family members such as children to support them later in life. If you try to keep up with the Joneses, you may be sacrificing your own financial future.
Credit cards and home equity lines of credit start the slippery slope of excessive spending. Once the spending starts, it is hard to get out of the hole. Credit scores can be jeopardized and create a snowballing problem. Don’t spend money that you don’t have.
While many people try to piece together a financial plan, they would never try to perform their own surgery or draft their own legal documents. Financial planning is too important for a family’s well-being to be taken lightly and put together piecemeal. Financial planners can work with you to be sure all of these steps are addressed and completed.
Before you get pulled into the excitement of the holidays this season, take some time to focus on you and your family’s financial plan. Don’t get overwhelmed and take it all on yourself. Call a financial planner today to help you to start the process.
More expert advice about Finance for Couples
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