The term ‘financial plan’ is pretty generic – but yours shouldn’t be. Your plan should be as good a fit for your life in the future as it is today, be easily adaptable to the constant changes you’re bound to encounter in the future, and be focused on achieving your long-term life and retirement goals.
And if you’re wondering whether or not you need a financial plan, wonder no more, because you do – if you have an income, a family (now or in the future), dreams of a comfortable retirement, as well as lots of other financially-rooted reasons that are unique to you. So, to get you started, here’s what to look for in your financial plan:
- There is no one-size-fits-all financial plan. Yours must be a personalized plan that is a precise road map of the things you need to do to achieve your current and future goals.
- The starting point is a discussion of your financial goals – educating your children, paying off debt, protecting your family, buying a house, planning a holiday or a major purchase, leaving money to your family or a favorite charity, and, of course, funding your retirement.
- Once you’ve zeroed in on your financial goals, get specific about how much they will cost and how you will meet those goals.
- Then, take an inventory of all that you own and owe including the value of your home, investments and other assets, pensions and the amount of debt you carry (mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and so on).
With all the right personal information on hand, a financial plan can be developed that gives you:
- A snapshot of your current net worth – and a blueprint for increasing your net worth over time by increasing the value of what you own and decreasing the amount that you owe.
- A framework for a workable budget that includes your income, expenses, taxes and savings. You want to aim for a budget that gives you a cash flow surplus (meaning you’re spending less than you earn) and not a cash flow deficit (meaning you’re spending more than you earn).
- The knowledge about whether you can achieve your goals based on your current assets and savings patterns or what you need to do to meet your goals by increasing savings, changing your investments or delaying the timeline for some of your goals.
- Advice on what types of accounts to put your investments in – RRSPs, TFSAs, non-registered accounts, and so on.
You need a comprehensive and personal financial plan. Talk to a professional advisor with the qualifications, tools and track record of developing financial plans.
Written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) as a general source of information only. Not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, or to provide tax, legal or investment advice. Seek advice on your specific circumstances from your own advisor or an Investors Group Consultant.