There is never a better time than the present to start your financial plan. Take a strategic approach when managing your finances to help keep tabs on how you’re doing.
Mapping out what you want to achieve over the next 12 months can give you an advantage for making smarter decisions with your money in the future.
An annual financial plan is a guidebook of sorts that tells you where you’re at financially right now, and what areas or issues need to be addressed so that you can meet those goals. The plan covers every aspect of your financial life, from investing in your early 20’s to your outlook for retirement.
Financial plans may vary based on age, income, or debt, but the most important components of an annual financial plan are the same. Regardless of where you begin planning financially, here are some things you need to be thinking about.
Getting married or starting a family are obvious reasons to reshape one’s financial plan, because you may want to save for a down payment on a first home or college for your children.
Evaluating where you’re at in the context of any major life shifts that have happened recently or may happen soon are all influences that will affect your planning.
Regardless of age, retirement should be a top priority that regretfully gets pushed to the back burner too often. A Federal Reserve survey published in 2015 found that 31% of American households have nothing saved towards a nest egg. Those statistics also show that more than two-thirds of Americans have been saving. Unfortunately, saving is just the raw material for a financial plan that needs to be put into action.
Financial plans should review possible retirement-savings options and determine how to best use them. For example, if you have access to a retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan through your company, make sure you’re making the right amount of contribution.
It is good practice to inventory which types of accounts you have and how they are or are not shaping up to meet your financial expectations.
The right financial-planning software can ease money management. Consider whether software you are using now is meeting your needs, and explore options that are available to you.
There are innumerable options for financial planning, ranging from free budgeting apps, premium programs, and investment firms that are resources for creating a good plan.
Next Year’s Savings Goals
Annual plans take into account past, present, and include future goals. It is important to identify what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months in what you want to save and where you should be putting that money.
Starting with the total amount you want to save and then breaking that down on a monthly or weekly basis will make it easier to reach your goals. Having zero-based budgeting, where you budget down to the very last dollar each month, will also help you adjust your needs as they change and grow.
At Advantage Retirement Services, we’ll help create a specialized financial plan around your specific needs.
Visit our services here to determine how we can help plan for your future or visit with Mike Gann at our Springfield location: 3506 S. Culpepper Circle, Suite B.