financial planning beliefs
Indian Beach on the Oregon coast
When looking for a good fit in a financial advisor it's important to understand what they believe. Here are my financial planning beliefs.
Purpose of money
Money is a tool to accomplish your purposes in life. You can spend it now, give it away or save and invest it for later. Money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.
Balancing between "now" and "later"
Of course, failing to plan for major future expenses such as retirement and college is not a good idea. But so is worrying so much about the future that you don’t enjoy life today. Finding a good balance between the two is a result of successful financial planning.
Generosity is an integral part of a successful financial life. It is more blessed to give than to receive. When you invest in causes you value others benefit, society as a whole benefits, and you benefit.
The ongoing nature of financial planning
Creating a initial financial plan is a good way to get on the road to financial success. But life is dynamic, things change over time. Financial planning is an ongoing process. As things change you have to continue to decide how to allocate your limited resources to what you most value.
Growing your financial savvy
It’s in your best interest to become more savvy with your personal finances over time. It’s a great idea to have a working knowledge of the basics of personal finances. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin
Life insurance. For most people life insurance is a tool to replace lost income for those depending on that income. This leads me to most often favor the use of term insurance. In most cases I believe keeping insurance and investing separate is the best approach.
The basic concept of an annuity is sound. In exchange for your funds you receive a payment for a period of time (usually for life). You share longevity risk with many other people. Weigh this benefit against the complexity and costs of available products. First check the need for an annuity within the context of your financial plan. Then, if needed, buy a low-cost, high quality offering.
You can apply your human capital to work which has a good income. You can also apply it to endeavors which help fulfill your purposes in life. It’s great to have work which provides both a good income and helps fulfill your purposes in life. If you don’t, you’re wise to put in place long-term plans to find work which provides both.
Unexpected financial events will happen, count on it. Set aside in cash at least 3-6 months worth of spending. Having enough cash reserves creates some margin in your life. This helps to lessen the impact of surprises.
Focus on what you can control. This includes your stock/bond mix, diversification, costs, discipline and rebalancing. Tune out what you can’t control. This includes short-term market movements, the media, which companies/sectors/countries/asset classes will perform best, etc. To be a successful investor you first need a sound philosophy and strategy. Then you need the discipline to stick with it.
Learn more about my investment philosophy here.
Holistic financial planning
There are no independent financial decisions. Using your resources in one area means those same resources are not available to use in other areas. The longer your perspective, the better your chances of making a good financial decision. Holistic financial planning helps you balance between the short-term and long-term.
Tax planning is an important part of a healthy financial plan. You should make tax-related decisions in the context of a holistic financial plan. Tax considerations alone should not drive your decision making. Look for opportunities to reduce your taxes but pay what you owe with honesty and integrity.
Long-term care insurance can be an important part of a sound financial plan. But weigh the cost/benefit tradeoffs. A good place to start is by obtaining several quotes from independent firms.
Pensions usually have several different annuity and lump sum payout options. Determine the best option in the context of your financial plan.
Cash flow planning
To be successful with money, you need to spend less than you earn. It’s as simple as that. To make this happen you need a system which works for you. Planning and controlling your spending in a purposeful manner is a foundational financial practice.
You need to be careful when considering using debt. If not it can cause a host of financial problems. If you have debt, create a plan to pay it off. Being debt-free is a key part of laying a solid financial foundation upon which to build for the future.
Retirement by itself is not a goal but a tactic. Living all your days with purpose is a worthy goal. It’s important to understand what you are retiring to and not just what you’re retiring from.
If you don’t tend to your personal finances on a regular basis they can grow more complex over time. You might add extra bank accounts. Or you might add extra investment accounts. Or you might add more individual investments over time. Simplifying things gives you more time and energy to focus on the most important things in life.
The value of a fee-only, fiduciary financial advisor
A fee-only, fiduciary financial advisor can help you see the big picture of where you are now. They can offer different perspectives and help you gain clarity about your options. They can help you choose a plan and put it into action. They can help keep you from making financial mistakes and stay on track for your goals. A good financial planner can add significant value to your life.
I include Social Security benefits in my financial planning projections. But I reduce projected benefits for those further away from starting. Make the decision of when to start your benefits in the context of a holistic financial plan. Waiting as long as possible to begin benefits is often the most beneficial approach.
Legacy planning includes determining how to handle your assets after you’re gone. It also includes what kind of legacy you want to leave with your family, friends and community. Planning for your legacy is a loving thing to do for those you care about.