Taking the steps to create a financial plan is one of the most important leaps you can make towards establishing a successful financial future. It is your “road-map” that clearly defines the steps you need to take to successfully achieve you financial goals. Though having a well-thought out and clear financial plan is excellent to have, it is not worth much unless it is implemented and progress is tracked. Given this fact, and that we are in the midst of our Financial Plan Update season, we felt it would be beneficial to touch upon the importance of not only having a financial plan, but updating it on a regular basis.

Why Should I Update My Plan?

Tracking your financial plan’s progress is much like that of sailing a ship. Wind, water levels and storms are unpredictable variables that can quite easily steer you off course in your voyage. Just as these variables steer a ship off course, a successful financial plan is dependent on a number of variables including market performance, risk exposure and the resources required to achieve your goals. This is why it is important to regularly update your financial plan. Just like the weather, life circumstances, and market variables are unpredictable and forever changing. You never know when marriage, a new job, divorce, or new children can come into the picture. Incorporating those changes and making sure your plan is adjusted accordingly is absolutely essential to your success and keeping you on track. Below are a few common questions to consider when updating your financial plan:

Things to Think About When Updating Your Financial Plan:

Retirement Planning

  • Are there any changes to when I want to retire?
  • Do I want to spend more or less?
  • How much have I saved? Is this more or less than I had anticipated?
  • What are my sources of income?
  • Am I contributing enough towards my retirement or can I contribute more?

Tax Planning

  • How can I maximize my after-tax wealth on stock options granted?
  • Should I realize capital gains this year?
  • Are there any years I qualify for Roth contributions/conversions?
  • I earned significant income this year, are there ways I can defer taxation?

Cash Flow Management

  • Have I made more money than expected? Should I pay more towards my liabilities, or invest my savings?
  • Is there a refinance opportunity?
  • Have my expenses inflated more or less than expected?
  • Can I afford to spend more in general, or do I need to cut discretionary expenses back?

Insurance Planning

  • Do I have enough life insurance or too much?
  • Has there been a move? Is my new homeowner’s insurance high enough?
  • Has my net worth changed significantly? Do I need Personal Umbrella Insurance or make changes to the amount I have?
  • Have there been any health changes that cause more frequent doctor visits? Do I need to modify my health coverage?

Estate Planning

  • Do my current documents reflect my wishes?
  • Have any family circumstances changed? (deaths in the family, new family members, etc.)
    • Relationships with family members and other circumstances can affect the distribution of assets and other portions of your will/trust documentation. Asking yourself this question could aid in uncovering any potential pitfalls that may have arisen.

Education Planning

  • Am I saving enough? Have my education savings performed well enough to fund my child’s tuition?
    • If your education plan has underperformed, you may need to save more. Or if the opposite occurs, you may be able to decrease savings levels.


Investment Analysis

  • Are my investments aligned with my goals? Have my investments performed above/below expectations? Have I had an influx of cash to invest?
    • Whether your portfolio performs better than or underperforms expectations or has an influx in cash has a significant effect on the amount of risk and return required to achieve your goals. Better performance can often mean that you might have the ability to decrease the risk level of your portfolio. Underperformance could mean you might need to take more risk.

 

If you feel that you need to have your financial plan updated, or need a financial plan in the first place, please do not hesitate to give us a call or shoot us an email.  As always, thank you for your confidence in D3 Financial Counselors where “We serve our clients by providing Integrity, Trust, Wisdom and Confidence.”

By: Kyle Grabenstetter MS – June 25th, 2014