The recent COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to plan much in the way of the future right now. This is particularly true when it comes to your finances. Whether you are thinking about job security, your retirement or your financial portfolio, uncertainty abounds. However, I would argue that there is no better time than right now to think about your financial future and evaluate where you are today and where you want to be in the years to come.
Start with a Financial Review: Conducting a personal financial review is the first step to creating your financial plan. A solid financial review with an advisor will help you recalibrate where you are today and where you want to go in the future by looking at your current spending and saving habits to help establish your plan’s baseline. You will review your current assets, debts and income to determine the variables that can influence your plan’s success. Once you have created a foundational financial plan, you will start to discuss your concerns, passions, plans and issues to help shape and define your financial journey.
Put Family First: Whether you are planning to have children or thinking about how you will pay for their education, there are many ways to start preparing today. This can include starting a health savings account (HSA) for future medical expenses, looking into financial options for adoption, flexible savings account (FSA) considerations for childcare, and starting a 529 or other higher-education savings plan.
Career + Lifestyle Decisions: What does your career trajectory look like? Do you plan to retire at your current company, or have you always wanted to explore a second career that involves your passions? Do you want to take a family vacation to Hawaii or a two-week adventure to Europe? If yes, how are you planning for these wants now so you can enjoy them in the future?
Conversations about your wants and desires regarding your career, travel and lifestyle should be factored into your financial plan. Philanthropy should also be a part of this conversation. Do you want to contribute your time and money to nonprofits that matter to you? Have you thought about how to do this? This conversation will also lead into your estate planning desires and the legacy you want to leave after you are gone.
Retirement Considerations: No matter the age you want to retire, it’s important to know what you need to get there. Planning for your retirement should be an active exercise, not a passive conversation, that looks at your 401K and other investment accounts every year. By thinking and talking about your long-term dreams, you can start planning and budgeting today.
The First Step: I encourage you to think about your financial future and what that looks like in the years to come. As you think about these questions, consider partnering with a financial advisor to help you reach your short- and long-term objectives. When you have a financial advisor who is focused on your unique journey, he or she can help you discover your areas of strength and identify improvements to maximize success.
Nikki Newton is president of UMB Private Wealth Management and can be reached at [email protected].