Elements of Financial Planning – Simplified
You are one hundred percent responsible for yourself. Learn to take charge and live your values along the way. Financial planning is a process of wisely managing your finances so YOU can achieve YOUR goals and dreams aligned with your heart. Once those are established, you gather and analyze your data, develop a plan especially for you in mind, then implement. Monitoring your plan is essential for making those inevitable adjustments to reach your happy place.
So, what are the elements of a financial plan?
Let’s start at the top.
Cash Flow Management is understanding where your money comes from, where it goes and the choices you make to meet your needs and goals. The primary components include income, expenses, and savings.
Investment Planning includes the asset classes to achieve mid- and long-term goals:
- Cash or cash equivalents, such as money market funds
- Bonds or other fixed-income investments
- Stocks or equities
- Real estate or other tangible assets
- Futures and other financial derivatives
Tax Planning relates in some way to all the other areas of financial planning. Various forms of wealth, such as human capital, investment capital, or physical capital, produce income, and how that income is recognized under the law will affect which planning alternatives provide superior outcomes for you.
Education Planning focuses on family needs for education. This may involve changing landscape such as different rates of tuition, eligibility and cost for financial aid, tax treatment of savings and timetable. Tax favorable accounts:
- Coverdell Education Savings Account
- 529 plan
Retirement Planning includes several factors:
- Income projection analysis
- Saving strategies
- Qualified plans
- Distribution and income strategies
- Life expectancy after retirement
Risk Management and Insurance Planning includes:
- Life (both too long and too short)
- Long-term Care
Important financial goals may not be attained if an adverse-risk event is unprotected. Each type of insurance has its own method of evaluation with a delicate balance between desirable and affordable coverage.
Estate Planning includes provisions allowing your family members to access or control your assets should you become unable to do so yourself. Every estate plan should at least include:
- Durable power of attorney
- Beneficiary designations
- Letter of intent
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Guardianship designations
Business Planning is designed to forecast future financial results and determine how best to use the company’s financial resources. It’s a highly creative thinking process as well as an analytical one. Components include but are not restricted to:
- Assess business environment, vision and objectives
- Identify and quantify types of resources needed
- Identify and quantify revenue sources
- Create balance sheet(s)
- Plan for business succession
- Arrange buy-sell agreements
Special Situations may include:
- Debt management
- Creditor protection
- Efficient credit management
To sum it up, financial planning ensures that you are in control of your finances and know what you need to do if life strikes. I will write more about each of these topics in bite-size edible chunks.