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Financial Planning: Helping You see the Big Picture

by: Stacy Gutschenritter, Education Manager & Trust Officer, Retirement Plan Services, Union Bank & Trust Company

Whether you are just starting your career, or 20 years into it, we all have one common goal: we hope to retire someday. When that “someday” happens is up to you. With so many financial obligations in our lives, many people delay saving for retirement until it’s too late to make up for lost time. A comprehensive financial plan helps you see the big picture and set long and short-term life goals. When you have a plan, it’s easier to make financial decisions and stay on track to meet those goals.

One of the main benefits of having a financial plan is that it can help you balance competing financial priorities. For example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. You can use this information to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies and choose suitable products and services. Best of all, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your financial life is on track.

The Financial Planning Process
Creating and implementing a comprehensive financial plan generally involves working with financial professionals to:

  1. Assess your current financial situation by reviewing income, assets, liabilities, insurance coverage, investment allocation, tax situation and estate plan.
  2. Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals.
  3. Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build your financial strengths.
  4. Choose specific products and services that are tailored to meet your financial objectives.
  5. Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change.

The financial planning process can involve a number of professionals such as a Financial Planner, Accountant, Estate Planning Attorney, Insurance Professional and Investment Advisor.

Financial planners typically play a central role in the process focusing on your overall financial plan and often coordinate with the other professionals who have expertise in specific areas.

The most important member of the team, however, is you! Your needs and objectives are what drive the plan and once you’ve considered recommendations, the implementation lies in your hands.

Staying on Track
The financial planning process doesn’t end once your initial plan is created. The process is ongoing. You should review your plan at least once a year to make sure it’s up to date and you are on track. Your circumstances and goals will change over time; therefore it is important that your plan is modified. Events that might trigger a review include:

  • Your goals or time horizons change
  • You experience a life-changing event such as marriage, birth of a child, health problems, job loss, or a death in the family
  • Your income or expenses change substantially
  • Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected
  • Your tax situation changes

Do you have a sound plan in place? Work with a qualified financial planner to identify – and ultimately reach – your financial goals.