What Type of Financial Advice Do You Need?
The What & When of Financial Planning
Navigating financial planning can be confusing.
What are the life events you should focus on?
When should you start planning for them?
- Track Expenses: Tracking helps to identify both net worth as well as areas for saving. If you plan to start paying off student loans soon, begin planning for it.
- Utilize Financial Planning: A commission-free financial advisor will work with you and in your best interest to take a holistic look at your finances and help identify the best financial plan for you both now and in the future.
- Pay Down Debt: Generally, begin by paying off debts with the highest interest rates. For example, pay off credit bills prior to student loan debt.
Over 50% of newlyweds say finances put stress on their marriage with 45% consciously cutting down on spending. (source:H&R Block)
- Make Major Updates: Create or update your will, beneficiaries, power of attorney, health care proxy and any other important documents that should include your new spouse as a primary member of your family.
- Evaluate Life Insurance: As a precautionary measure, explore life insurance options to ensure you and your spouse are protected in case of an unforeseen accident or emergency.
Here’s some stats for you:
- 50% of new parents wish they would have been more financially prepared prior to having their first child.
- 46% of new parents found a second job or side hustle. (source:H&R Block)
- Review Your Estate Plan: Drawing up a will is now essential. Estate planning will ensure your assets are protected, your children will go to the correct guardian in case of emergency and assets will be properly distributed among family.
- Start Saving for Kids College: Open a 529 account for your child(ren). Put money into the account every month using automatic transfers and work with your advisor to make sure the amount going into the account fits in with your short and long-term financial goals.
- Negotiate: Increased salary means higher net worth and more savings potential. These increases will compound on each other over time.
- Rollover Retirement Accounts: If available, rollover a previous retirement account into a new employer’s retirement account. If unavailable, move it into an IRA at a firm you and your advisor agree upon.
- Max Retirement Contributions: As your salary increases, keep your expenses in check so you can save as much as possible in all retirement accounts, whether employer-sponsored or not. These could be 401k, 403b and Traditional or Roth IRAs.
- Proactively Tax Plan: Work with your financial planner to maximize tax deductions. Set up a Health Savings Account or Flex Spending Account that will help pay for medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. Use tax liabilities to analyze your current investment choices. Consider adjusting asset allocations as your financial goals change.
- Start Saving: Divorce is expensive. If divorce is anticipated, begin putting money aside to pay for attorney costs and continued bills.
- Separate and Close Bank Accounts: Open separate bank accounts that you will not only use to pay for divorce expenses but will also use and individual accounts moving forward. Close joint accounts between you and your spouse and divide assets in those accounts accordingly with your divorce settlement or plans for assets.
- Adjust Budget: Work with your planner to take a holistic look at individual and combined spending habits between you and your partner. Identify ways that your budget and spending habits will change during and post-divorce.
- Create a Budget: Work with an advisor to take a comprehensive look at your current cost of living, long-term finances, emergency funds, retirement accounts, and all other applicable expenses that will still exist after you launch your business. Then, add in all operating expenses for your business to figure out the assets you’ll need to both live and work.
- Assess Your Taxes: Self-employment taxes are different than standard employee taxes. When starting a business, you will have to cover your self-employment tax and potential local business taxes.
- Establish Systems: Owning a business means your financial situation becomes much more complex. Utilizing invoicing, financial management and project management software will keep you organized and provide an open line of communication between you and your advisor. An added bonus, these business systems are often tax-deductible.
Assess Your Plan: Have you already set up a 529 Plan for the dependent you’re planning on sending to college? A 529 Plan not only provides financial aid benefits but tax benefits as well. A 529 Plan can be used to pay for any college nationwide! Just make sure the 529 Plan is set up in the state where your dependent is planning on attending college.
- Consider A Trust: You could gift money to a grandchild outright or pay for additional costs, such as tuition or medical expenses- or you can consider setting up a trust! If you decide a trust is the right route for you, either choose from:
- A large communal trust for all descendants:
- This option is great if you have a large family and trust your estate plan trustee to distribute assets evenly from the trust. The trust can also extend to multiple generations past your grandchildren.
- Individual trusts for each of your descendants:
- If you only have a few grandkids, it may be more advantageous to leave equal and separate amounts of money in different accounts for each grandchild.
- A large communal trust for all descendants:
- From An Inheritance: Although assets may be tied up in probate for a long time, a financial windfall inherited from family could pay off substantially. Be prepared for unintended tax consequences or potential estate plan changes that may have to be made.
- From Work: If you work with a great company, you may receive monetary benefits in the form of annual or one-time bonuses (specifically when nearing retirement), profit sharing contributions to a 401k Plan, stock options that are valuable when exercised, and private shares from a company that has been acquired or has gone public through an IPO.
- Review Your Plan: work with an advisor to review your current financial plan and make changes where necessary. As your goals and life situation change, so will your plan. Make sure to make the most of the your plan and those you love by reviewing wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations.
- Transform Your Life: Adjust your financial plan with your life changes. Make adjustments to spending habits based on your retirement distributions.
- Prepare For The Future: It’s important to review wills and trusts to make sure these documents are complete and stay up to date with your assets and wishes. Retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s as well as annuities have beneficiary designations which bypass the terms of wills and trusts. This means that your IRA account will pass to the person you name as beneficiary regardless of what your living trust says. Accounts with beneficiary designations bypass the probate process in most cases, so make sure you still like the people you name as beneficiaries!
- Take Distributions: If you are age 72, you must begin taking your required distribution (RMD) from your retirement accounts by April 1 of the year following the year you turn 72.
- If you have started taking RMDs, note that you must take your annual RMD by the end of this year. Failure to take the required distribution may result in a 50% penalty.
- For example, if your RMD is $4000, you will owe the IRS a $2000 penalty for failure to take the correct amount!
- Be Aware Of The Costs: According to Fidelity, the average couple will spend around $280,000 on healthcare alone during their retirement. Avoid dipping in to personal savings for retirement healthcare costs by properly budgeting prior to retirement.
- Consider Long-Term Care: 70% of people over 65 will require some version of long-term care support. While Medicare may cover short-term events and costs, majority of long-term care is paid for through insurance, out-of-pocket payments, or hybrid annuities.
- Wills: There are many different types of documents that can be established to indicate a person’s wishes when they are incapacitated or no longer living. Whether it’s a living will, last will, or power of attorney, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with each document.
- Trusts: Trusts are used to control when beneficiaries have access to the assets, to offer protection from creditors or from the inability of the beneficiaries to manage money, and they afford privacy by not being subject to the probate process, which goes into public record. There are several different types of trusts, but the most common are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.
- Other Plans: Don’t want to pass assets via a last will in order to bypass Probate Court and avoid legal fees? Consider beneficiary forms, transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) instructions, or joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWROS) if in a married couple.
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