Very rarely do people understand what true financial planning really means. Many assume that saving is sufficient for one’s financial plan or when they contribute to a company’s PF plan or when they obtain investment advice on tax saving investments. These are all smaller elements of financial planning. So what is the bigger picture?
So, What is True Financial Planning?
Financial planning is a comprehensive, on-going approach that starts with helping you define your aspirations, developing a life plan where you are guided through each step and recommending course corrections along the way, if needed, till the goals are reached.
In order to achieve your aim from your Financial Planning engagement, it’s imperative that you are prepared to avoid some of the common mistakes by considering the following advice:
Set measurable goals
A financial plan primary motive is to set specific targets of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve results. For instance, quantifying the motive like instead of what you want your children to attend ‘good’ schools, you need to quantify what the word ‘good’ means so that you will know when you have reached your goals.
Effect of each Financial Decision
Financial decisions taken by you may affect several other areas of your life. For example, an investment decision may have tax consequences that are harmful to your estate plans. Or a decision about your child’s education may affect when and how you meet your retirement goals.
Periodic re-evaluation of your financial situation
Financial Planning is an ever-evolving process, the goals outlined by you under present conditions may change over the years due to various factors such as a basic change in your lifestyle, inheritance, marriage, birth etc. Re-analysing your Financial Plan periodically may help you stay on track with your long-term goals.
Plan Early to Retire Early, the basic motto behind the art of 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. Following and incorporating simple 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.
Financial Planning is a common sense disciplined approach to managing your finances to reach life goals. It cannot change your situation overnight; it is a lifelong process. Remember that events beyond your control such as inflation or changes in the stock market or interest rates will affect your Financial Planning results.
Realize that you are in charge
If you are working with a Financial Planner, be sure you understand the Financial Planning process and what the Planner should be doing. Provide the Planner with all of the relevant information about financial status. Ask questions about the recommendations offered to you and play an active role in decision-making.