Like a cross-country flight plan, your financial plan will need adjustments based on the facts and circumstances as they evolve.
A financial plan is just that, a plan to help attain the financial freedoms you want while taking precautions so that the unthinkable doesn’t sink your ship. This requires diligent coordination of many moving parts. Those are, but not limited to, cash flow, inflation, earnings, investment performance, tax laws, estate plans, insurance plans, family composition and health -- and whatever else is material in your life. Just like the freedom we enjoy as a country, financial freedom isn’t free either.
The cost to get it all together can be as simple as hours of your personal time to gather, review and research your choices combined with hiring a tour guide (a.k.a. financial professional) to escort you through the maze of moving parts that need evaluation. This initial process is like the final exams that we all took in college. As of the moment you complete the exercise, it’s complete and accurate to the best of your abilities. But as soon as the clock strikes midnight and that fixed snapshot of your financial life begins to turn into a motion picture, things will change.
Like a cross-country flight plan, your financial plan will need adjustments based on the facts and circumstances as they evolve and upon how well your last year’s forecast came to fruition. In the air, weather, air traffic and a host of other factors may alter that flight plan. For your financial plan, small deviations to your earnings, spending and saving may take your financial plan off track. If you wait until retirement to check in again, those lost years may be impossible to make up given your pending retirement and ability to continue earning.
By keeping your measurements short, say at least annually, you’ll be able to spot deviations from the original plan and make mid-course corrections to get you back on track. Some of these are in your control, such as spending and the amount of risk you’d like to take with your investments. But others are completely out of your control, and may require major plan modifications. Just look at the TJCA tax change in 2017 and you’ll know what I mean about mid-course corrections based on changes out of your control. Simply stated, with the SALT limitations and the reduced mortgage interest deduction, people are paying down debt and considering ways to lower their non-deductible state and local taxes.
Don’t simply oversee the money side of this financial plan. Knowing what you need and what you need to save and earn is part of it, but also look at the other moving parts annually. For example, when your insurance renews, examine the renewal notice and the new declarations page to see if the coverage is still adequate. Ensure that the moving parts of the estate plan still make sense and keep your durable powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney fresh and less than three years old.