The 7 Steps Of Do-it-yourself Financial Planning

You are in control

You are already your own financial planner. Regardless of the extent of help you receive from professionals, you ultimately are the decision maker and you are responsible for your own finances. Although the financial world has become increasingly complex, it is becoming easier today to do a lot of your own planning. The variety of resources has expanded such as software for money management and planning; online tools for banking, financial planning and investing, and resources, and books and blogs that are easy to understand. These resources may be good news for you if the cost of professional fee only financial planners is out-of-reach to you. Besides the cost of fees, others may avoid planners because they have heard stories of advisors trying to sell a product that didn’t fit their situation. Cost savings and avoiding product pitches are excellent benefits of being your own planner.

Everyone should take a more active role in their financial affairs. Not only does it help with educated decision making and fraud avoidance it also helps you better communicate with your other professional advisors such as your accountant and attorney. You will also find yourself spotting opportunities when they cross your path.

Becoming a better manager of your family’s finances will also help you ‘dig out’ if you are struggling financially. When you consider the low savings rates and the high household debt, many more people find themselves in this category today.

The following are 7 steps to do-it-yourself financial planning:

Step 1: Commit

The first step to financial planning always begins with commitment. Whether you are having financial difficulty, or have just avoided setting goals and mapping out a plan – commitment is the first step. Commitment provides the discipline and focus needed to help sustain you on the path towards your goals.

Step 2: Set Goals

Without specific goals and a plan to achieve them financial success stays a foggy dream. Therefore the second step is to list the dreams that will motivate you. Write down all of the goals you want to achieve in the short and long term. This will serve as the driver, or the fire in the engine giving you the motivation to move forward. Everyone has dreams, but without constant watering and attention dreams will go dormant. Leave your past mistakes and inaction behind you, light a new fire and chart a course forward. You have an enormous amount of potential and talent, and if you have made mistakes you now have more experience and wisdom. Dare to imagine what you could achieve because your best years are ahead of you.

Step 3: Assemble and Organize Information

Get your stuff together. Planning is easier if you assemble everything in one central location. Make an organized filing system either in a cabinet, accordion file, a box, any way that works for you. Now locate and file all of your tax returns, receipts, insurance policies, contracts, wills, mortgages, deeds, titles, pay stubs, employee benefit statements, banking (loan, savings and checking), bills, investment and retirement plan statements and any other important papers.

Step 4: Manage Cash Flow

Your household is a business. You need to know how much you are earning and spending each month. Balance your checkbook and establish a budget. There are dozens of books and software to help with this, and your bank’s website may provide this as well. This will help you know when and where you are overspending.

Step 5: Self Educate

Establish a sound foundational knowledge base about financial matters. Start with books about budgeting and money savings tips, debt, basic insurance and investing. Be sure to include reading about mutual funds and financial planning. Avoid get-rich-quick, real estate, gold or innovative ‘secrets’ books. Stick to the fundamentals. I find the “For Dummies, ‘For Idiots’ and ‘D-Mystified’ book series to be very helpful for many people. Lastly, stay informed about current financial topics by reading financial magazines, newspapers, the business section of papers, and blogs.

Step 6: Create a Written Plan

A written plan serves as a road map towards your financial destination. It helps you understand where you are presently and the steps that you need to take to move forward. A financial plan is a process. Your life will change, therefore you should revisit your financial plan at least once a year to make any updates or to include items in your checklist for completion. You should revisit your financial plan at least once a year to make any updates or to include items in your checklist for completion. If you write your own financial plan, you will have to obtain financial planning software. Your other options are to pay to have a written financial plan completed by a fee financial planner or by an institution or professional that provides products. Be sure to find out about how the planner is compensated and what your fees will be.

Step 7: Engage Professionals

Most people can’t entirely do all of their financial planning by themselves. Assemble a team of trusted professional advisors that you can rely on to help you implement different aspects of your plan, answer your questions and be on the lookout for you. The professionals that can be the most advantageous are a proactive tax accountant and financial advisor with extensive planning, investment and insurance knowledge, an attorney qualified in estate planning, and a banker that can help with credit ratings and debt management. Before committing to anyone, get referrals for trusted professionals from people whose opinion you respect and don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions.

Home Improvement Loans: Enable You To Make Home Improvements

We all wish to bring changes and make some innovations in our homes. But changing your home or experimenting may cost you little extra that might not be feasible for you. Are you dropping the idea just because of this reason? Insufficient funds will not pose any problem because you can entail home improvement loans and fulfill your needs easily.

Home improvement loans can be secured and unsecured. For secured home improvement loans you are required to pledge your property as collateral. As they are secured in nature these loans offer a huge loan amount within a range of 5000-75000 and that too at affordable rates of interest. The repayment term is generally long and varies with the loan amount. The flexible repayment term allows easy loan repayment.

Whereas, if you can not meet the collateral clause then unsecured home improvement loans are a great financial option to depend on. Through unsecured loans you can borrow a huge loan amount within a range of 1000-25000 for a short term of 1-10 years. They carry slightly higher interest rates as they are not secured against anything.

Home improvement loans taken to cover up the repairs or renovation cost of residential property. You can utilize funds for civil work like plumbing or doing up the kitchen or for painting the flat. You can remodel your house or can buy new furniture, bathroom extension or construct one more bedroom. You can easily deal with such expenses by taking up home improvement loans.

If you are having bad credit history, even then you can go for home improvement loans. Poor credit holders facing arrears, defaults, bankruptcy, missed payments and other such bad credit can easily procure these loans for carrying home improvements.

Home improvement loans can be very easily applied through banks and even online. The online application is very convenient as you can apply by completing a simple application form. You can even look around for lower rate deal easily by doing little market research.

Calculate Needs Before Buying Insurance

Insurance mis-selling is prevalent and is damaging the development of the industry. In fact, majority of insurance experts accepted this fact on various occasions. Generally, intermediaries are the first to be responsible for it especially an agent who sells only those products that earn maximum commission. It is considered as the most popular reasoning in Indian insurance sector. However, there are various other reasons why a customer ends up purchasing a wrong policy. It means that it is not always mis-selling but sometimes mis-buying’ as well.
It may happen because of lack of awareness, buying insurance just to save tax and using policy as a tax saving tool. Some challenges are also experienced by financial planners as well to convenience customers why a product is correct for them, to get the right and full information from them for exact assessment of their profile and portfolio. To handle these procedural challenges, a few years ago, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority had proposed doing a customer need analysis’ before selling a life insurance policy. In January 2012, IRDA’s draft guidelines introduced and also proposed a mandate on intermediaries and the insurers to fill-up a standard need-analysis worksheet of the buyer before it affects sale of term insurance.
It was to make sure that the plan which is proposed to be sold is suitable for the prospect and fulfills policyholder’s requirements. Also, this is aimed at handling under-insurance and is widespread among insurance customers. Though, the proposal has not been implemented in the proposed format, a few insurance companies in India have introduced a few need analysis features. Different needs arise at different age stages, so this tool works by understanding the life stage customer is at, single, married, married with a child, nearing retirement and life after retirement are some very common stages in a product matrix.
Protection requirements are analyzed when customers have chosen life stages. For example, person with a child has more insurance needs as compared young, single person who does not have any dependents. These protection requirements reduce when dependents become independent and loans are paid. Customer’s next step should be assessing their targets and motive of purchasing insurance. Do you want to buy a policy for child’s future education requirements or accumulate a corpus for post-retirement life? Do not forget that the need for investment and savings are connected to the achievement of different financial goals and the plan customer buy must be able to fulfill these needs.
Generally, the need for regular income arises after retirement and customers also need more health cover with advancing age. The analysis tool will help buyers to calculate exact needs as per their goals and prioritization. There are several online tools available for goal-based long term wealth creation, retirement planning and health insurance requirements. A pension plan will be more important as compared to short-term goals such as buying a vehicle or a foreign tour. Those who do not have sufficient life insurance coverage should buy addition protection in terms of rider plans.