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Financial Planning Checklist for the New Year

J Terwilliger 2014
James P. Terwilliger, PhD, CFP®
Senior Vice President, Senior Planning Advisor
[email protected]
(585) 419-0670 x50630

Most of us will never win the lottery …or inherit a windfall from a rich uncle …or pick the next million-to-one hot stock.

That’s all luck. Luck will not secure our retirement. Nor will it fund our children’s educations.

But smart, disciplined planning can help us do just that and much more.

Financial planning is not just about investing. It’s much broader. It’s about getting one’s entire financial house in order, much like partnering with a trusted physician to establish and maintain physical well-being.

It is never too early and never too late to take charge of one’s financial future. A new year is a great time to get started.

Disciplined personal financial planning helps to ensure:

  • you and your family are adequately protected from undo risk
  • you are taking advantage of available income tax deductions and credits
  • you are aware of tax-advantaged ways to save for college and are saving at a rate that will meet your funding goals
  • your investments are adequately diversified within an asset allocation consistent with your risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals
  • you are saving at a rate that will meet your retirement income goals and timetable
  • your estate plan is consistent with your charitable and legacy interests, asset titling, and life-insurance/retirement-plan beneficiary designations

The financial planning process typically consists of six steps that you can use as a checklist:

1. Develop goals and set priorities.

Goals are a must for any plan. Where do you want to be and by when? What do you want to accomplish?

2. Assess assets/resources.

Documenting a current-state financial snapshot establishes the starting point. This step is data-intensive.

3. Identify barriers to reaching goals.

Can all goals be met, and if not, why not? Are there competing goals, and if so, which are more important?

4. Incorporate strategies into an integrated plan.

The key word here is “integrated”. Since goals and associated strategies are usually interdependent, the pieces of an effective plan are assembled in a way that optimizes outcomes.

5. Put the plan into action.

An action checklist – detailing what is to be done, by whom, and by when – is key.

6. Monitor progress, evaluate results, and adjust plan as necessary.

It is important to keep the plan flexible to respond to changes and, when necessary, reset the course.

This takes us back to Step 1, and the process repeats. When done well, financial planning becomes a dynamic, ongoing journey – not a one-time event. It provides a framework for making ongoing financial decisions consistent with long-term goals.

Most folks do not have the knowledge, training, time, or desire to guide themselves through the process. Partnering with a trusted financial planner to provide the expertise and discipline is advised. Contact us at 585-419-0670 and let our experienced financial planners help you develop a plan that will enhance your financial future.

This material is provided for general information purposes only. Investments and insurance products are not FDIC insured, not bank deposits, not obligations of, or guaranteed by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust or any of its affiliates. Investments are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Past performance is not indicative of future investment results. Before making any investment decision, please consult your legal, tax or financial advisor. Investments and services may be offered through affiliate companies.