Do You Need a Financial Checkup?

Marriage, babies, divorce, home ownership, death, retirement, and job changes are all reasons to take a closer look at your financial planning.

It is always a good idea to schedule a financial checkup during the different stages of your life. A single person first starting out in their career has dramatically different needs from a married couple or a family with children. Moreover, someone getting ready to retire has completely different financial needs than they did earlier in their life.

Sadly, there is a large amount of people who have never even given thought to a financial plan for their life. However, it is never too late to begin financial planning. Where can you start?

  1. Start making lists of your current needs and future goals. Become aware of where your money goes—what is necessary and what is not? Check out some budgeting websites like https://www.mint.com. (Other sites can be found here.)
  2. Read various investment and financial planning books. A great selection of them is on About.com. Many offer terrific advice about using your money wisely. They are also a wealth of information about various strategies for investing and saving for the future. Coupled with the advice of a professional, reputable books are a great place to start.
  3. Find a financial planner. The best type of financial planner is one that is fee based. You want a planner who is independent and not steering you towards particular companies for commissions or other incentives. A great place to find a good financial planner is at https://www.cfp.net/. There you can search for a certified planner to help you. The site also offers a free guide to help you start planning here.

If you have already started financial planning but have a life-changing event, it requires a financial check-up. You might want to check out more insurance, more or less investments, educational savings, etc. What are some things to consider when your life starts changing?

  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance—both short- and long-term
  • Investing for college
  • Saving for retirement (though it’s never too early to start this.)

Financial planners are very helpful in helping sort out which types of insurance are important for your situation, as well as how to balance your money into various investments. Reputable books are also great at helping you prioritize where your money goes. There is always conflicting advice, so sometimes it is best to consult several trusted sources. This is even more important when money is tight—because some families fail to keep their future in mind in the wake of a current deficit of funds. Do not assume that your situation makes you ineligible for financial planning of some sort. Make sure you are aware of your options.

As time marches on towards retirement age, financial needs continue to change. Perhaps your children are grown and now you are thinking about retiring and how you want to spend your final years. If you have planned throughout your life, you may be ready to travel or spend these years comfortably doing things you enjoy. If you have not planned and retirement is approaching-make sure you start thinking about your end years as soon as possible. Coupled into this planning is estate planning. Providing for your heirs and making your last years easier for yourself and your family come in various forms of planning, like:

  • Trusts
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Wills

Other things that are often over-looked are Health Care Surrogates, Powers of Attorney, and plans for any type of guardianship should the need arise. Make sure you think ahead to help protect yourself and your family. SmithLaw knows financial checkups make lives easier.

Image: Some rights reserved by 401(K) 2012

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