Financial Planning Checklist

Financial planning can seem like a complicated, and sometimes intimidating subject. Many people think that financial planning is just for the wealthy, or that financial planners are reluctant to work with those of lesser means. While this is true of some financial planners, it is far from the norm. The fact is that financial planning can be useful for all stages of your life. Whether you are a newly minted college graduate sorting out your college loan options and looking for a great start in life, a newcomer to the workforce planning for a home and a family or a new retiree seeking a lifetime income in the absence of a paycheck, professional financial advice can be a big help. Below are some ways financial planning can help you through every life stage.

High School and College Students
It is never too early to start planning for the future. While financial planning is far from the mind of the average high school student, getting an early start on money and finances could be key to success. If you have both a financial planner, think about setting up a meeting with your high school or college-aged child. The financial habits young people learn can stay with them a lifetime, and it is never too early to get started. Below are some discussion points:

  • Qualifying for college grants/scholarships
  • Choosing the right educational loans
  • Setting up a retirement plan to shield after-school earnings from taxes
  • How a college major choice can impact future earnings
  • Responsible use of credit cards

Recent College Graduates
Graduating from college is a major milestone in the life of any young person, but in many ways it is only the beginning. Once graduation is over and the party supplies have been put away, it is time to join the real world. That transition can be scary and fraught with financial peril. The gift of a session with a financial planner could be key at this point. If you are the parent of a recent college graduate, the gift of financial planning may be a great one to give to help get your college graduate off to a great start. Below are some discussion points:

  • Planning for repayment of student loan debt
  • Assessing 401(k) plan options
  • Setting up and funding an IRA
  • Weighing the relative merits of renting vs. buying a home
  • Avoiding credit card debt and the responsible use of credit
  • Maximizing return on savings

Young Married Couples
Weddings are about love, but marriages are also about commitment and shared responsibility. If you are ready to get married and start a family, you are ready to tackle your finances head on. Meeting with a financial planner has a number of advantages for young married couples, and for couples contemplating marriage. It may not be the most romantic thing in the world, but getting control of your finances could have a positive impact on your marriage. Disagreements over money is second only to infidelity as a cause of divorce. Below are some discussion points:

  • Information about programs for first-time home buyers
  • Making sure both partners are on the same page financially
  • Help with credit score issues and the repair of damaged credit
  • Completing a net worth statement for each partner and the couple
  • Calculating life insurance needs
  • Assessing the value of other types of insurance

Approaching Retirement
Hopefully your ongoing financial planning has helped you prepare for retirement. By now you may have some suitable investments for your 401(k) and an IRA established that keep your tax bill as low as possible. Now retirement is on the horizon, and it is time to assess the situation and make sure you are really ready. Retirement is a major milestone in your life and some financial planning and guidance, at this stage also, can help you make the right moves and stop you from making any major mistakes in your golden years. Below are some discussion points:

  • Calculating your net worth
  • Assessing the impact of mortgage debt on your retirement
  • Creating a plan to pay off other types of debt prior to retirement
  • Conducting a dry run to stress test your retirement income
  • Developing a plan to turn your retirement nest egg into a retirement paycheck
  • Thinking about the personal and emotional aspects of retirement
  • Reviewing various Social Security claiming options

Mid to Late Retirement Years
Now that you are comfortably retired and enjoying a steady stream of income, it is time to assess your financial situation yet again. Hopefully you have enjoyed sound financial help and guidance along the way, making staying retired easier. Even so, there are still obstacles to be tackled. Below are some discussion points:

  • Setting up an estate plan
  • Establishing a trust for your children
  • How to discuss financial matters with your family
  • Calculating your net worth and determining a fair distribution of your assets
  • Making sure your money lasts as long as you do
  • Options for handling a health problem for you or your spouse
  • Protecting yourself and your spouse from the cost of long-term care

Retirement is the end of one stage of your life, but it is the beginning of a whole new stage. Getting help from a financial planner or trusted advisor is a smart thing to do. The advice you receive could help you grow your asset, leave a legacy and provide for your children and grandchildren even after you are gone. Sound financial planning is the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you are a new college graduate, a recent retiree or somewhere in between, you can always benefit from financial help and guidance.

Spencer is always here to help you. For more information on some of our products and services that can help, or general questions we may be able to weigh-in on, contact your local financial center and speak to the Financial Center Manager. Information can also be obtained by visiting our website or calling our Customer Service Center at 1-800-363-8115.

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