Investing is an important part of your financial plan, but there are other aspects of your finances that need to be organized to complement your efforts to build wealth. Investing should be part of a holistic financial plan that includes the following areas:
Cash Flow Planning
Cash flow planning is the first and most important step of financial planning. What comes in has to be greater (or at least equal) to what goes out, or you decrease your net worth, or wealth, over time. Before any other type of planning can be done, it is essential to have a budget. Most people resist a budget and feel it restricts them. Properly used, a budget is actually liberating and will give you a sense of empowerment about your finances. As a check to see how well you are doing overall with your budget, calculating your net worth at least once a year is recommended. Here are some great resources for managing cash flow:
Taxation is most likely your biggest bill, so it is important to know about the specific deductions (reduces taxable income) and credits (reduces taxes owed) you can claim in any given year. It is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a tax specialist. Here are some other resources that can help you navigate your tax planning:
Other than this site, which is a resource on exempt market investing, there are lots of great resources on investing in general. When investing your hard earned funds, it is important to have a goal in mind for the money, so you and your advisor can properly determine your risk tolerance and investment timeline. Remember, your goals may change as your life changes so you want an investment plan that can be flexible enough to handle these changes. Some great resources for investing include:
With the changes in in our culture, retirement planning seems like a luxury to most people, especially if you work in the private sector. However, you are not really planning for retirement, but for financial independence. Even if you do not plan to fully retire, it is advisable to have a nest egg in case you cannot work. Retirement planning is very daunting to most clients; as increased longevity and the low interest rate environment have increased the projections of funds needed, and they can easily exceed a million dollars. However, some is always better than none, and it is best to do what you can in this category and then find creative solutions to fund the gap if needed, as the date of retirement or partial retirement arrives for you. Here are some great resources for planning your retirement:
Insurance & Estate Planning
This is an area that is often ignored by too many people. After any life change, it is generally recommended that your estate plan and insurance coverage be reviewed. Although having an estate plan, including a will and insurance may not seem important if you are healthy, you may not be happy with the way their wealth is treated if you die intestate, or without a will. Proactively having these conversations with a qualified life insurance agent and your lawyer may help save a lot of heart ache later for your family. Also, the peace of mind that everything is organized to your wishes will be well worth the effort.