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Planning is bringing the future into the present

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

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What is Financial Planning?

Financial Planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances. Life goals can include buying a house, saving for your child's higher education or planning for retirement. The Financial Planning Process consists of six steps that help you take a 'big picture' look at where you are currently. Using these six steps, you can work out where you are now, what you may need in the future and what you must do to reach your goals. The process involves gathering relevant financial information, setting life goals, examining your current financial status and coming up with a strategy or plan for how you can meet your goals given your current situation and future plans.

The Financial Planning process consists of the following basic six steps:

1. Establishing and defining the client-Planner relationship

2. Gathering client data, including goals.

3. Analyzing and evaluating your financial status.

4. Developing and presenting Financial Planning recommendations and/or alternatives.

5. Implementing the Financial Planning recommendations.

6. Monitoring the Financial Planning recommendations.

How to make Financial Planning work for you?

You are the focus of the Financial Planning process. As such, the results you get from working with a Financial Planner are as much your responsibility as they are those of the Planner. To achieve the best results from your Financial Planning engagement, you will need to be prepared to avoid some of the common mistakes shown above by considering the following advice:

Set measurable goals

Set specific targets of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve results. For example, instead of saying you want to be 'comfortable' when you retire or that you want your children to attend 'good' schools, you need to quantify what 'comfortable' and 'good' mean so that you'll know when you've reached your goals.

Understand the effect of each financial decision

Each financial decision you make can 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. Remember that all of your financial decisions are interrelated.

Re-evaluate your financial situation periodically

Financial Planning is a dynamic process. Your financial goals may change over the years due to changes in your lifestyle or circumstances, such as an inheritance, marriage, birth, house purchase or change of job status. Revisit and revise your Financial Plan as time goes by to reflect these changes so that you stay on track with your long-term goals.

Start planning as soon as you can

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.

Be realistic in your expectations

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 life long 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're 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.

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