The Informed Investor

How to Plan for Your Best Financial Future

Michelle Konstantarakis, Vice President, ICC

March 9, 2019

In recent years, the media has been less than optimistic about our financial future. Across all mediums, the reports and statistics point to the difficulties of saving, investing, spending, and planning for you and your family’s future. Even for those who are meticulous investors or those with higher incomes, preparing for the future can often seem like an impossible task.

There are several factors that affect this difficulty in planning. For instance, financial literacy is not a core subject taught in school, unless you pursue a finance degree in college. This disadvantage starts us out on the wrong foot from an early age. Almost every investor doesn’t know how to accurately determine how much to save versus how much to spend in order to adequately grow and sustain their wealth. This challenge often leads to inefficient and/or delayed preparation for your future.

Regardless of your age or stage of planning, here are some critical and universal tips for continuing to build your wealth:

Determine and measure your objectives

What are you saving for? This may be a simple question, but many people place themselves at a disadvantage by not stating their goals in measurable terms. Think of this as your investment blueprint, a guide you’ll continually reference for monitoring and motivation as you implement your plan. Most investors are planning for retirement, education costs for their children, inheritance for future generations, charitable giving, or often a combination of some or all of the above. Knowing and measuring your status in relation to your objectives helps investors make timely investment strategy adjustments and better manage risk.

 

Start saving and investing today

While the best time to begin or increase saving and investing for your life goals may have been 5, 10, or 20 years ago, the second best time is now!

 

Planning for the future should involve the entire family

This makes your goals a team effort for which the whole family is both involved and accountable. It is especially important to include children, so they understand the financial commitment they can expect from their family and improve their financial literacy. This enables them to be informed investors of the future.

 

Develop an effective investment plan

Create a portfolio of investments specifically designed to fund your objectives. Your investment strategy must be correctly aligned with your time horizon, expected returns and risk, cash needs, taxes, and inflation.

 

Decide when to engage with an investment professional

Many of these steps may seem daunting to attempt alone. Building a plan and navigating the financial markets can become very complicated. If you are considering working with a professional, be sure to consider those who are fiduciaries, which means they are legally and ethically required to act in the best interests of their clients, even ahead of the interests of their employer. Additionally, search the federal and state regulatory compliance records of those you are considering. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has a great tool for looking into the experience and background of any registered professional, as well as any violations or disclosures they may have: https://brokercheck.finra.org and  https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/iapd/default.aspx.

 
Many in the industry are generalists, while some have more skill and experience. Once your net worth exceeds $3 million, you will have the ability to pass on generational wealth, establish charitable endowments, access more exclusive investment opportunities, and improve your tax strategizing. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of the best qualified professional to address your specific needs.
 

If you have a good plan, adhere to it

Consider which action steps to take and avoid during periods of heightened market volatility. The right plan addresses how to be a beneficiary (not a casualty) of other investors’ emotional responses due to increased market volatility. While difficult, once your plan is in place, work it by remaining rational, unemotional, and unimpulsive. These tips are essential to building your long-term wealth.