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In your financial life, there are many pieces to the puzzle. In whatever life stage you’re at, you could have things like income, retirement accounts, credit cards, student loans, financial goals, savings, investments, and more. When all the pieces are apart, it can make it hard to see the total picture. A comprehensive financial plan though can put all the pieces together, and make the picture clear.
My name is Melissa Cox, and I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Dallas, Texas. I specialize with helping people to create personalized financial plans, plans for paying for college, plan for retirement, pay off student loans, and more. My goal is to help you put the pieces of your financial puzzle together, and to help you get to where you want to be.
Below are some of the basic aspects of creating a comprehensive financial plan. It can get you started and help you to understand your finances, how they are now, and where you want them to be. Once you get the basics of your plan together, or if you need a little help doing so, give me a call at (972) 233-1120, schedule an appointment online, or send me a message, and we can arrange a free consultation to go over things. I can help you with each part of the plan, and to develop a plan that goes beyond this basic stage, that will allow you to see your finances in a comprehensive way.
The first step in creating your financial plan is to get everything together. Having things like credit card statements, bank statements, and other documents and information can allow you to begin to see what you have and to take other steps. I wrote a blog post about this called How to Create and Organize Your Personal Financial Information Binder. It can get you started with the process.
If you want to take gathering your information to the next level, check out our personal financial website. It is a great online tool that can help you put everything together and help you to plan for what you want to accomplish. Contact me and I can help you get set up.
Once you have all your information together, the next step is to create a summary. When you create a summary, you put things like your income, expenses, assets, and debt all on one page. By having everything together, in a simple and clear format, you can begin to understand your situation.
Once you have your information and a summary, the next important step is to create a budget. A budget is a great tool that can help you get a handle on what you’re spending. You might be surprised at where your money goes once you take a look at it. With a budget, you can see what you’re spending, and what you have left over, and you can use that information to help you with your plan. Here’s an interactive budgeting tool from Kiplinger that can help you get started. You can also find templates online.
Now that you know where things are, you’re going to want to look at where you want to be. What financial goals do have? What do you want your financial life to look like next year, in five years, and when you retire? What would you like to do to take care of your family after you are gone?
Each person will have different goals. They will depend on your age, your family situation, your income, and more. There are no one right set of goals for everyone. Everyone’s goals will be unique to them.
Some goals you might consider are things like paying off debt, paying off student loans in particular, saving for major purchases, and funding your retirement. All of these goals and others can be part of your financial plan, and these are the types of things I can help with.
One goal, that might be universal to most people, is to increase their savings. Whether the money is for an emergency fund, for planned major purchases, or simply as a cushion when paying monthly bills, many people could benefit from saving more.
When you have your financial information gathered, your summary made, and your budget developed, you can create a plan for saving. Look at your other goals, and your situation, and decide how much you can and want to save toward different things. Increasing your savings can help with a number of financial issues, and it is possible to do even if you have debt.
One aspect of your financial plan might be reducing debt. This could be credit card debt, car loans, student loans, and other things. With your information gathered and summarized you can start to make a plan for how you can reduce the debt you have.
You can start by noting the debt you have, the minimum payments for those debts, and the interest rates involved. With this information, you can develop a plan for reducing your debt.
There are different strategies for paying off debt, such as the snowball and avalanche methods, and paying off student loans can be complex. If you need some advice regarding reducing your debt, give me a call or schedule an appointment online, and I can help you come up with a plan.
Planning for retirement is something we all need to think about. Whether it is forty years away or only a few years away, coming up for how we will fund our golden years is important to all of us.
When planning for retirement for your financial plan there are a number of different aspects you can take into account. These include your current retirement savings, how much you can contribute to your retirement, how long until you retire, your risk tolerance for retirement investments, tax considerations, and the lifestyle you want to live once you retire.
When making your plan, take a look at where you are in your retirement savings, and where you think you need to be. Look at how much you can save, and the different issues involved in getting to your goals. You can summarize everything in a short format for your financial plan so you can understand an overview of what you need to do.
Retirement planning is an important aspect of what I do as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. If you want to go over the plan you develop for yourself, or you need help developing a plan, let me know, and I can help.
Although people often think of investments in terms of retirement planning, a person can also have investments apart from retirement accounts. These investments might include things like CDs, bonds, stocks, and real estate. These investments by be used for income or to accumulate assets for future purchases.
When making your financial plan, investments are one of the items you would have gathered information about and noted in your summary. Looking at your goals, and issues like savings, taxes, and retirement planning, you can consider a plan for your investments. You can look at what you have, what goals you have, and how your investments can help you reach them.
An important part of any financial plan is insurance. The unexpected often happens more often than expected and insurance can be important to have in these situations.
There are many types of insurance including car, home, renters, health, long-term care, life, and general liability. The type of insurance you need will depend on your situation and goals.
When making your financial plan, consider the types of things you might need insurance for and what coverage could be appropriate. The right professional can help you with the different options.
Have you thought about what will happen to your family and your assets when you pass away? Thinking about these issues is an important part of your financial plan.
When you plan for your estate you could have something simple, with mainly a will, or you might have a more complex situation involving trusts and so forth.
When planning for your estate, consider the different assets you have and how you would like them allocated after you are gone. Think about your children, if they are minors, and who you and your spouse would like to take care of them. Develop a will, look at other estate planning documents, like powers of attorney, and look at things like account beneficiaries and life insurance policies you may have.
Planning for your estate doesn’t have to be complex. If your situation is simple, it could be fairly straightforward. If you have a more complex situation, for example with complicated assets or a complicated family situation, you might consider getting professional help to help you through the process.
Developing a comprehensive financial plan is like putting the pieces of your financial puzzle together. It can let you see everything together and to understand the overall picture.
By going through the items above, you can start to create your own financial plan. If you take your time, and are thorough, you can get you financial picture together.
If you need help creating a financial plan, or want to discuss the plan you made, let me know. I would be happy to help.