The Planning Process
WHAT TO EXPECT
Everyone has different goals and values. Because it can be a bit daunting to start something like financial planning without having any idea of what to expect, I’ve provided an overview of what you can expect when working together.
The takeaway is that financial planning is a process rather than a one-time thing you do and put on a shelf. We’ll help you figure out where you want to go, draw you the map, and act as your guide along the journey. You’ll gain clarity and direction in your financial life.
The financial planning process can be broken down into two major sections: initial planning and implementation.
INITIAL PLANNING PHASE
The initial planning phase is further broken down into a series of steps that is completed in 3-5 meetings over 1-3 months. Depending on your current level of organization and how complex your situation will dictate which sides of the spectrum you'll fall.
The first step in the planning process is getting organized. You probably wouldn’t through-hike the Colorado Trail let alone spend a weekend camping without taking an inventory of the necessary gear. The same is true for your financial life.
You have numerous financial accounts including bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, old 401(k)s, HSAs, HRA, FSAs, mortgages, student loans, life insurance, credit cards, employer benefits. What about estate documents? Do you know where they are? How about your kid’s 529 plan documents? It’s easy to lose track of this stuff.
We’ll take a look at what you do and don’t have have and don’t have, where it is, and what purpose it serves to give us a better look into your current financial position. Once we have all of the financial pieces in one place, we can then start seeing which adjustments need to be made to help you achieve your goals.
While this part seems intimidating, don’t worry; we use secure software to help simplify the process.
The second step in the planning process is goal setting.
This is your plan. We’ll help facilitate the discussion around your thoughts about what you want to do and how you want to live. We’ll also help you make your goals more specific, determine their timing, and what you’ll need to do to accomplish them. Most of us have competing goals so we’ll also help you prioritize which ones you’ll focus on achieving first.
You’ll walk away with your specific goals, an understanding of the process, and what will need to be done to get there. Once goals are set, a specific plan is then crafted for you and action can start.
CREATE A STRATEGY
Time to choose your line. Together we’ll investigate the different routes you can take to achieve the goals that were set in the previous step. With our help, you’ll choose which works best for you. We’ll make decisions around:
Cash flow. Where’s your money going and does this need to be tweaked?
Where should you save your money?
How should you invest your savings to give you the best chance of achieving your goals?
Which accounts need to be open and any that may need to be closed.
Policies that need to be updated, added or deleted.
Debt repayment strategies
EXPLORE ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
We help you optimize your financial resources. We’ll explore using different accounts such as Roth IRAs and HSAs in a savvy way to achieve your goals. Should you sell that rental? Buy another one? We’ll provide guidance on different insurance policies to utilize and other tools and solutions to get you where you’re going.
Just like using a road bike on the trails is ill-advised, opportunities that are relevant to you are balanced against your risk tolerance, specific goals, and time horizon.
IMPLEMENT AND MAKE PROGRESS
Now you know what gear you have, what gear you need to get, map in hand, and even some potential side hikes. You’re standing at the trailhead. Now’s the time to put one foot in front of the other.
Together, over the course of the year we’ll take actions to implement your plan including:
Opening the right accounts
Set up automatic contributions and transfers
Adjust tax withholdings and/or set up quarterly estimates
Providing ongoing support and guidance when you get lost, have questions, or things change (and things do change).
Help you find the appropriate professionals as necessary including CPAs, attorneys, and insurance agents
Progress is important. You know have an accountability partner and independent third party to bounce ideas off of. We’re your guide as you venture on your journey.
REVIEW AND ADJUST
Change is inevitable and can be unexpected.
As stated prior, financial planning is a process. We help you make adjustments as your needs change and ensure that you’re continuing to make progress towards your goals and financial freedom. We'll review your plan annually, make adjustments accordingly, and ensure those changes are implemented.