How often have you read that the first step in getting control over your financial situation is to "Create a Personal Financial Plan?" or "Most people don't plan to fail; they just fail to plan".
You would not go on a long journey, in unknown territory, without a map. Chances are you would take many wrong turns, add unnecessary costs, may break down with no alternative plan and may never arrive at your destination. Well, by not having a plan for your financial future you are doing just that!
It is a logical process that covers your day-to-day cash-flow, saving, investments, life and Income Disability Cover, retirement and estate planning - now and in the future. A plan helps you decide on how best to allocate your resources towards attaining your goals. It keeps you on track - checking how you are progressing towards your goals and how best to deal with any deviations.
You may think of the process as helping you to answer three straightforward questions:
Financial Planning essentially consists of setting goals and laying out your financial life in a way that you can realize these goals.
Most people have different financial priorities during various stages of their lives. Regardless of your age or current life stage, you need a plan. A balanced financial plan is like a three-legged stool; remove one of the legs and the stool teeters unsteadily and may crash, taking you with it.
The most important aspects of financial planning can be placed into three broad categories, which are the three legs of your financial planning stool:
(1) Budgeting and Saving,
(2) Investing, and
(3) Retirement and Estate Planning.
• Assess your financial situation by helping you track your income and expenses, establish an emergency fund, and determine your net worth.
• Save for major expenses like funding your child's education, buying a house or car, or developing a cash reserve for special occasions like weddings and holidays.
• Plan for your retirement by estimating your retirement needs and expenses.
Then you can begin to determine the amount you need to save to meet your retirement goals. • Assess your investment risk tolerance and develop an asset allocation strategy that best suits you.
• Plan to reduce your taxes and develop a tax-efficient investment plan.
• Protect you and your family against financial crisis should you become disabled or die.
• Plan your estate to ensure your assets are distributed the way you want and provide for any estate expenses.
• Give you a clear picture of where you are, a strategy about where you are going, and peace of mind about your future.
It's never too early to start!
Don't delay your financial planning. People who save or invest small amounts of money early, and often, tend to do better than those who wait until later in life.
Similarly, by developing good financial planning habits such as saving, budgeting, investing and regularly reviewing your finances early in life, you will be better prepared to meet life changes and handle emergencies.
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