In previous blogs, I have mentioned ideas for saving in small ways. Now, let’s look at the bigger economic picture in terms of your money management, long term financial planning, and estate planning. As a former teacher, I always reminded my students that “sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.” With this mindset, I am just making a simple checklist of people you should periodically visit for updates but sometimes neglect to do. There are also people on the list that should be considered but not necessarily consulted. Our world is changing faster and faster, as well as factors in our personal lives and the options in the business sphere. It is best to consult with these professionals as it is their job to keep their finger on the pulse of changes that occur within the industry. Have regular appointments and updates with them, just like medical appointments, to assure financial health. Life can be uncertain and regret that your affairs are not in order can be stressful and costly.
Banker. This person can provide you with all of kinds of options to manage your money: checking accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, loans (home equity, car and personal) certificates of deposits and money market accounts, credit cards and international money transfers. Not only that, some banks offer services to customers that you might normally have to pay for, like notary services. If you are weighing starting a business, they have a list of unique services for small businesses such as financing and setting up employee retirement plans. They are an excellent resource to help you find just the financial vehicle you might need from organizing your budget to getting a personal loan. Although loan rates for various purposes seem to be rising at the moment, other checking or saving options that could save you money are available, for instance, if you are a student or a member of the military.
Financial Planner Whereas banks can offer you sound advice on transactional accounts for your money, the financial planner is completely focused on long term growth for retirement and estate arrangements. Everyone should find a financial planner, as they come in all sizes and most can fit your budget in terms of fees. They are excellent people to talk to about money that you use in later life, whenever you retire. It is important to find a planner that you feel that understands your needs and goals and is not just trying to add you to their roster. Their goal every day is to watch the markets and move you into products that make the most money at the level of risk you are comfortable with. They can guide you into choosing the right time to retire and also choosing other allocations for your money.
Tax Accountant Even though I have been doing my family’s taxes for years, I always use a back-up accountant that stays on top of current and future tax changes. The advice they provide has helped even out our tax payments throughout the year and made April a much less painful month. Tax information also creates mindfulness about expenses and deductions throughout the year.
Lawyer It is vital to have a current will, advance directive and power of attorney. The will is a legal document used after death, that describes how your estate or property should be distributed and by whom. The executor works with the attorney on this information. An advance directive are the instructions for your medical care, should you be incapacitated. It includes a do or do not resuscitate order and who can decide this. A power of attorney makes decisions for you that you can longer make while still alive. In both cases, it names the person or people that make these decisions.
Family and Friends: This group, besides your spouse, is a definite no-no for discussing your finances. First, there is too much emotion, not rationality involved. Your finances and how you appropriate them should not be available for discussion, especially if you are not sure how far that information will go. It is really no one’s business but yours. My parents planned ahead and we executed their plan and we respected their decisions. It is cleaner and simpler that way. However, if you want to give a family member some money or pay off a loan for them, that is your prerogative. No strings attached.
Second, after getting professional advice from the previous people, why you want to upend a good game plan in lieu of what someone else thinks you should do? It is not really a good idea to discuss what you have decided with others because their suggestions might not be the best advice or run counter to what you have planned. It is better to have the professional (i.e. unattached third party) explain your wishes and thought processes at a later date. Do your research, decide thoughtfully, and make your plans. Then, knowing that you have done your best, go enjoy your life.