Financial planning isn’t just for that annoying friend who brags about fabulous vacations on the Cote d’Azur. Financial planning is for you, and ideally, done now. Here are some common myths about financial planning and what you should know:
Financial planning is only for rich people
Financial planning is for anyone who wants to figure out how to manage their money to achieve their dreams.
“If you have goals for what you want to do or need help in crafting them, then you are a good candidate for financial planning,” said Frank Pare, president of the Financial Planning Association and the PF Wealth Management Group in Oakland, Calif.
Financial planning costs too much
You can create a plan yourself. You will find a variety of free tools online, such as budgeting and retirement calculators. Or you can hire a financial planner. Some planners charge hourly fees for advice. Hiring help is a good idea if you are overwhelmed or confused, planning a big life change such as a divorce or starting a business, or your finances have grown too complex for a do-it-yourself plan.
Financial planning can wait until life settles down
That could be a long, long wait. If life feels too chaotic, a financial plan might be just what you need. “I see it as an educational process to give people control and understanding,” said Peter Creedon, CEO and certified financial planner at Crystal Brook Advisors in Mount Sinai, N.Y. That promotes peace of mind, which can lead to better decisionmaking.
It’s all about the portfolio
Beyond investments, a comprehensive financial plan looks at your overall financial situation — debts, income, savings and cash flow. It considers insurance needed to protect assets, retirement and estate planning, and tax strategy. You don’t have to have a full-blown financial plan to invest. Contribute to a 401(k) at work? Have an IRA? You are already an investor. A financial plan can align investments with your goals.
Get a plan and you are set
Not so fast. You have to follow up on the recommendations, such as practicing good spending habits, getting enough life insurance, and updating your will. Just as there is an annual tax season, Pare said there should be an annual financial planning season. Pick a time when your calendar tends to be slower and use it to tend to your financial plan each year.