By: Thad Ismart | CFP ® – Financial Planner
Whether you’re 21 and fresh out of college or 81 and deciding if it’s time to move to a retirement community, you should always have a working financial plan. Accomplishing long-term financial goals is always challenging. The economic environment is unpredictable, the markets are volatile, and our lifestyles change along with our personal circumstances. Because losing sight of our long-term financial goals is all too easy, having a well-designed financial plan is essential to building financial security.
Let’s say you’re a 21-year-old, just beginning your professional career. At this stage, it is often difficult to think about retirement—after all, it’s more than 40 years away! However, many people who are close to retirement often wish they had started saving for retirement sooner. An 81-year-old considering housing and care options will have more choices if he or she followed some basic steps early on to secure his or her retirement savings. You can never save too much for retirement, but you can definitely save too little.
When you begin your professional career, following some basic guidelines to create a “financial blueprint” will help guide you throughout your working years. This blueprint should cover areas such as tax-deferred savings, investments and diversification, taxes, insurance, and basic estate-planning needs.
Once you’ve established yourself professionally and financially—and when you are still more than five years from retirement—you should begin to focus on maximizing your retirement savings opportunities by establishing your long-term goals and creating a plan to accomplish them. These goals fall within the areas covered in the blueprint you (hopefully!) created when you were younger, but they are more than just guidelines. Your goals should be specific, measurable, assignable, and realistic, and they should include a time frame in which they need to be accomplished. An annual checkup will ensure that you stay on track.
As you get closer to retirement (within five years), you should take a comprehensive look at your financial situation. This is where you begin to make the final preparations for the next stage of your life—retirement! You should take a close look at long-term care insurance needs, life insurance needs, your estate plan, possible changes to your investments, Social Security and pension options, and cash flow needs. Even after you retire, you may go through many changes and face many obstacles, so it is still important to have annual reviews of your financial plan to ensure your financial security. As BWFA, we create financial plans for clients of all ages, at all stages of their financial lives.