Financial PlanningBasic Financial Planning 101: What I Wish I Knew Years Ago

Basic Financial Planning 101: What I Wish I Knew Years Ago

Basic Financial Planning 101: Your Guide to Financial Success

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Are you ready to master the art of financial planning and take control of your financial future? Imagine having the wisdom of a seasoned financial planner with nearly three decades of experience at your fingertips, guiding you towards financial success.

financial planning basics 101
financial planning basics 101

In this exclusive guide, we will dive deep into Money: The Basics of Financial Planning 101.

As a retired financial planner who has worked with wealthy families and business owners, I bring a wealth of knowledge to your doorstep. By the end of this article, you will not only have a crystal-clear understanding of the fundamentals of financial planning, but you’ll also discover how to:

  • Secure your financial future with confidence.
  • Make informed decisions that align with your long-term goals.
  • Navigate the complexities of investment and savings with ease.

Prepare to learn and let me empower you with the knowledge and expertise to make your financial dreams a reality. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways About The Basics of Financial Planning 101

While we’ll explore the cornerstones of strategic financial planning, I wanted to peel back the layers within core components that hold tremendous potential to further your financial success when optimized.

  • Financial planning is a strategic process for managing finances to achieve monetary goals now and in the future. It goes beyond budgeting to craft total financial strategies.
  • Setting clear financial goals and writing them down makes them up to 42% more achievable. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T).
  • Assessing income, expenses, assets and debts honestly reveals strengths and gaps to address. Quality financial planning adapts continuously to life changes.
  • Partnering with a certified financial planner brings accountability through tailored guidance. Their expertise helps you implement plans and accelerates success.

I can share time-tested perspectives on building financial resilience while avoiding unnecessary risk exposure. The depth of knowledge quality financial planners offer goes far beyond surface budgeting tips.

My decades honing financial strategies equip clients to reap the many rewards this process offers.

What Other Financial Experts Have to Say of The Importance of Financial Planning Basics

  1. “I believe that the biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to their retirement is they do not plan for it.” – Emily Guy Birken, author of “The Five Years Before You Retire” and “Choose Your Retirement
  2. “A good financial plan is a road map that shows us exactly how the choices we make today will affect our future.” – Alexa Von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest.
  3. “More important than the how we achieve financial freedom, is the why. Find your reasons why you want to be free and wealthy.” – Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad“.
  4. “Financial planning and discipline is key to one’s financial freedom.” – Kishorkumar Balpalli, financial advisor and founder of MyMoneySage, a financial planning platform.

What is Financial Planning?

Financial planning is the comprehensive process of managing your financial resources to achieve your money goals. It goes far beyond budgeting – it’s about creating an intentional pathway to financial freedom by:

  • Setting S.M.A.R.T financial goals
  • Saving and investing intelligently
  • Reducing debt substantially
  • Securing your financial future

I’ve personally guided thousands of clients on this journey over my 25+ year career. It gives you clarity, direction and control – your personalized roadmap to financial success

  • If you are looking for a very simple, easy to follow financial planning process – let me suggest Dave Ramsey 7 baby steps.

The financial planning process typically comprises the following

  • Priority-based financial goal setting
  • Tracking income and spending patterns
  • Saving and investing wisely
  • Substantial debt reduction
  • Thorough retirement preparation

It evaluates your whole financial picture objectively and adapts strategies to life changes. You design total plans for growth and security, securing your future.

Let me also share some key statistics:
– According to 2022 research from the Financial Planning Association, 75% of comprehensive financial planning clients said the services helped prepare them better for unpredictability and achieving long-term goals. The process works!
– Heres the FPA study if you would like to read more. FPA Study: People feel Financial Planning Helped Them.
– You can also read this 2023 study from Northwaestern Mutual on Financial Planning.

Major Financial Planning Benefits

Proper financial planning prepares you for major life events – new babies, home purchases, growing families, career moves and more.

It also provides stability when the unexpected happens – job loss, market downturns or health issues. Wise financial planning empowers you to rebound strongly.

I’ve seen the tangible impact this approach has made for hundreds of my clients over the years. For instance, Joseph, a sales manager paid off $42,000 in just 2 years. And Alicia boosted her retirement contributions by 40% in a single quarter…

The essence is simple: financial planning gives you clarity, direction and control. It’s your personalized roadmap to financial success.

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Why is Financial Planning Important?

Financial planning isn’t just a set of mundane tasks; it’s a vital tool for individuals and businesses alike. As someone who started out as a stockbroker and grew into a practice that focused on comprehensive financial planning – I am speaking from experience.

What I am providing to you today is a ten minuter lesson on what it takes a CFP to learn in 12-16 months as they get certified.

Let’s expand on the previous section. Here’s why it holds immense significance:

  1. Prioritizing Financial Goals: Financial planning enables you to set clear and specific financial objectives, whether it’s saving for a down payment on a house or eliminating credit card debt.
  2. Tracking Income and Expenses: By tracking your income and expenses, you gain insights into where your money is going. Creating a budget ensures you stay on course and avoid overspending.
  3. Wise Saving and Investment: It empowers you to save and invest wisely, ensuring your money grows over time and your wealth multiplies. Smart investment choices and diversification are part of the game.
  4. Debt Reduction: Financial planning helps you cut down on debt, saving you money on interest charges and freeing up income for other goals. This might involve paying off high-interest debt and exploring consolidation or refinancing options.
  5. Retirement Planning: A well-thought-out financial plan is your blueprint for retirement. Saving in dedicated retirement accounts and crafting a strategy for generating income during your golden years ensures financial security.

Integrating Real-World Case Studies and Data

To provide a richer understanding, we integrate case studies and data from reputable sources:

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The Different Types of Financial Planning

Type of Financial PlanningFocusKey Strategies
Retirement PlanningSaving and investing for retirementAllocating funds to retirement accounts, diversifying investment portfolios, setting savings targets
Estate PlanningManagement and transfer of assets posthumouslyCreating wills, establishing trusts, designating powers of attorney
Tax PlanningMinimizing tax liabilities and optimizing tax benefitsMaximizing deductions, leveraging tax credits, adapting to tax law changes
Debt ManagementEffective debt handling and credit score improvementPaying off high-interest debts, consolidating debts, negotiating with creditors
Risk ManagementProtecting assets and income from unforeseen threatsImplementing insurance policies, creating emergency funds, diversifying investments
Types of Financial Planning

This table serves as a concise guide through the labyrinth of financial planning, highlighting the primary focus and strategies inherent to each type.

Whether you’re looking to secure a comfortable retirement, ensure your legacy is passed on as you wish, minimize your tax burden, manage your debts, or protect your financial assets against risks, these pillars of financial planning provide a structured approach to achieving your financial goals.

Creating Your Financial Plan: Your Personalized Path to Success

The financial planning process itself creates a customized roadmap to secure your financial future. But it only works if you take that first step…

  • When done right, personal financial planning is a rewarding journey of growth and security unique to your situation. Having guided so many on this journey, let me walk you through the keystone steps:
  • Throughout my career I worked with some wealthy families. What always amazed me was the amount of people that thought they were doing financial planning prior to meeting with me.
  • Often times it was a financial advisor or insurance agent who just ran some quick numbers through a financial calculator. And called that financial planning.
  • Running calculations are meaningless unless they start with your financial goals. What do you want, what is important to you financially?

The key steps are:

  1. Evaluate current finances thoroughly
  2. Set specific, written S.M.A.R.T financial goals
  3. Assess income streams, outlays, assets and debts fully
  4. Craft an initial practical budget aligned to goals
  5. Implement the plan, then adapt it continuously

Step 1 – Evaluate Your Current Financial Situation:

  1. Gather Financial Documents: Collect all relevant financial information, including:
    – Bank Staements & Investment Accounts
    – Property & Asset Details
    – Debt & Liability Records
  2. Create a Financial Overview Sheet: Use a sheet of paper to organize your financial data:
    Top Left: List all your Assets (what you own)
    Bottom Left: Note down your Liabilities (what you owe)
    Top Right: Record your Income (money coming in)
    Bottom Right: Detail your Expenses (money going out)
  3. Analyze Your Financial Position: Review the compiled information to understand your current financial health, providing a clear picture of where you stand financially.

I suggest you use my favorite tool. Create a FREE Emppower account to track your finances.

Step 2 – Set SMART Financial Goals

  1. Define Clear Objectives: Identify what you want to achieve with your finances. Common goals include: Saving for college, buying a home, reducing debt, planning for an early retirement
  2. Use the SMART Criteria to refine your goals:
    • Specific: Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
    • Measurable: Ensure your goal can be tracked and measured.
    • Achievable: Set goals that are realistic and attainable.
    • Relevant: Choose goals that are important to you and your financial health.
    • Time-bound: Assign a deadline to each goal.
  • Document Your Goals: Writing down your goals increases your commitment and the likelihood of achieving them.
  • Prioritize Your Goals: Distinguish between short-term and long-term goals to create a focused financial plan.
  • Example for Clarity: Consider Jada’s goal to pay off $60K in student loans within 5 years. This goal is specific (pay off $60K), measurable ($60K in total), achievable (based on her financial capacity), relevant (to reduce debt), and time-bound (within 5 years).

Need help setting your goals?
– Read my recent article on What Are Financial Goals and How To Set Your Long Term Financial Goals or Short Term Goals
– Here is an article on Examples and Goal Setting Tips
Financial Goals Checklist and Worksheet

The Impact of Writing Down Financial Goals on Achievement

SourceKey FindingImpact on Goal Achievement
Dr. Gail Matthews’ Study61% of written goals were achievedIndividuals documenting their financial goals are 42% more likely to achieve them
Mastering Financial Planning: Tips from a Retired Financial Planner SurveyOnly 3% of respondents recorded their goalsThose who documented their goals were 42% more likely to realize them

Step 3 – Assess Your Finances Thoroughly

  1. Review Your Financial Documentation: Revisit the financial overview you created in Step 1 to analyze your current financial situation, including:
    • Income sources, Monthly expenses, Savings accounts, Outstanding debts, Asset values
  2. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Look for patterns in your financial habits to understand what you’re doing well and areas that need improvement. Consider:
    • Consistent saving habits, Unnecessary or excessive expenses, High-interest debts
  3. Utilize Financial Tools: If you’re struggling to keep track of your finances, consider using tools such as:
  4. Understand the Importance of Budgeting: Familiarize yourself with budgeting principles to manage your money effectively. Reading articles on budgeting mistakes can provide valuable tips and strategies.
  5. Take Action: Based on your assessment, start making changes to address any identified issues. This may involve:
    • Adjusting your budget to reduce unnecessary spending, Creating a plan to pay down debts more efficiently, Increasing your savings rate

Step 4 – Craft Your Initial Budget

With goals defined and current finances mapped, now create an actionable budget aligned to your aims. Plot your income streams and outlays to start actively managing your cash flow.

My client Akilah was eager to buy a condo in 18 months. Budgeting revealed she could boost savings by $400 month just by packing daily lunches!

Step 5 – Implement and Evolve Your Plan

The easy part is planning, the hard part is implementing your financial plan. It’s like a diet – just start and do it today. If you fail, hop right back on and start again.

How do you develop a financial plan? Obviously the best place to start would be to search through the site here at www.michaelryanmoney. A good starting point would be to use our FREE Financial Calculators. Feel free to bookmark this site, or sign up for our free newsletter and never miss anything!!

  1. This website offers several free financial planning tools, including a required minimum distribution calculator, compound interest calculator, and savings goal calculator.
  2. SUNY Financial Planning Tools: SUNY offers a variety of financial planning tools and calculators, including budgeting and retirement saving calculators.
Creating a Personalized Financial Plan

Financial planning isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Your actions and market conditions evolve, so your approach must adapt continuously. I work closely with clients to adjust their budgets, savings and portfolio allocations over time. Fine-tuning keeps you on track as life changes unfold.

The payoff for undertaking these simple yet powerful steps is huge – personalized strategies tailored to your unique goals now…and financial resiliency for whatever lies ahead.

The Role of a Financial Planner:

  1. Budget Creation: Financial planners help you create budgets that reflect your financial goals, ensuring your spending aligns with your objectives.
  2. Savings Plans: They design savings plans tailored to your needs, helping you set aside funds for future goals or emergencies.
  3. Investment Advice: Financial planners offer guidance on selecting the right investments to grow your wealth while considering your risk tolerance and financial timeline.
  4. Retirement Planning: They assist in developing comprehensive retirement strategies to ensure financial security in your later years.

Finding a Qualified Financial Planner:

  1. Check Credentials: Ensure the financial planner holds reputable certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, indicating their expertise and ethical commitment.
  2. Evaluate Experience: Consider their experience in financial planning, particularly in areas relevant to your financial needs.
  3. Ask for References: Request references to gain insights into the planner’s reliability, effectiveness, and client satisfaction.
  4. Assess Compatibility: Choose a financial planner whose approach aligns with your financial goals and personal preferences.

Remember, a qualified financial planner is more than just an advisor; they are partners in your financial journey, equipped to navigate complexities and tailor strategies to your unique situation.

Next Steps In Your Financial Planning Process

Proper financial planning prepares you for major purchases, new babies, growing families, career moves and more. It provides stability when the unexpected strikes – job issues, market downturns or health problems.

Creating Your Financial Plan

  1. Evaluate current finances
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T financial goals
  3. Assess income, outlays, assets fully
  4. Craft an initial actionable budget
  5. Implement and evolve the plan continuously
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Note: The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial or legal advice. Consult with a professional advisor or accountant for personalized guidance.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
Who Am I? I'm Michael Ryan, a retired financial planner turned personal financial coach. And author and found of blog. My advice is backed by decades of hands-on experience in finance and recognition in esteemed publications like US News & World Report, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. 'here'. Find answers to your financial questions, from budgeting to investing and retirement planning, on my blog My mission is to democratize financial literacy for all.