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Financial Planning

Most of our client's questions and concerns fall into the six key areas of financial planning, as found in the CFP® Board required areas of study to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner. 

  1. Risk Management / Asset Protection:
    1. How do I secure my family’s income and retirement if I am disabled or die prematurely?
    2. How do we protect our retirement assets and investments from long-term care costs if I/we need long-term care or Nursing Home Assistance?
    3. How do I keep ahead of inflation and not risk significant losses in the stock market?  It is also important to address the diversification of investments and diversification of advisors and custodians.  You need “checks and balances” with your advisors and service providers (such as your financial planner, CPA, and estate planning attorney) to protect assets and bring light to any missed planning opportunities and unnecessary risks concerning the advice provided.
    4. How do we best attempt to avoid significant market losses with our investments?
    5. How do I protect my assets (home, investments, and retirement plans) from lawsuits related to an automobile accident or other risk areas?
    6. How do I secure Health / Medical insurance if I retire before age 65 when Medicare begins?
  2.  Estate Planning:
    1. Who will help my spouse or loved ones with the investments when I pass away or if I cannot?
    2. How do I reduce or eliminate estate taxes and estate settlement expenses, especially considering that life insurance and the growth of my assets over time are included in my estate tax calculation and the possibility that the estate tax laws will change?
    3. How do I correctly title my accounts and name the correct beneficiaries to help ensure that my investments are adequately coordinated with my estate plan?
  3.  Retirement Income Planning:
    1. How do I plan to avoid running out of money in retirement?
    2. How much do I need to save annually to meet my retirement income needs?
    3. What Pension options should I elect?  Survivor income with a lower monthly amount or no survivor income with a higher pension for me?
    4. Which assets do I spend first?  My IRA or Non-IRA assets?
    5. How and when do I calculate my IRA's Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)?
    6. How can my non-working spouse contribute to an IRA?
    7. At what age should I start my Social Security payments?
  4.  Tax Planning:
    1. How can I reduce taxes?
    2. How do I reduce estate and income taxes in any IRA when I die?
    3. Should I convert my IRA to a ROTH IRA?
    4. Should I pay off my mortgage and lose the mortgage interest deduction?
    5. Suppose my itemized deductions total less than the Standard Deduction, and thus I am not receiving reduced taxes for my charitable contributions.  How can I reduce taxes with my charitable contributions?
  5.  Investments Management:
    1. How do I invest for growth but not take too much risk?
    2. How do I invest for income and growth but not take too much risk?
    3. Should I invest in mutual funds, ETFs (exchange Traded Funds), individual stocks, bonds, or a mix of these securities?
    4. How do I know what fees I pay in my mutual fund and investment accounts?  (Many clients do not realize they are paying mutual fund expenses - management fees, 12b-1’s, trading costs, etc.)
  6.  Cash Flow Management
    1. Cash flow planning and management involve being savvy and creative about producing cash flow (earnings) and being proactive and purposeful about what you do with the cash.  Creating a systematic monthly plan to give, save, and carefully spend your earnings is a crucial element of a sound financial plan.  In addition, creating a budget, spending less than you earn, avoiding frivolous purchases, and avoiding debt are essential elements of good cash flow management.  Cash flow management is similar to “asset and liability matching,” which we discuss on our website.

It is important to address each of the six areas of financial planning and coordinate the various areas in your financial world.

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