Friday, March 06 2020
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

What Is an Annual Financial Plan?

An annual financial plan is a way to determine where you are financially at this particular moment. That means taking into consideration all your assets (how much you get paid, what's in your savings and checking accounts, how much is in your retirement fund), as well as your liabilities, including loans, credit cards, and other personal debts. Don't forget to include things like your mortgage or rent, plus any of your utility bills and other monthly expenses. This snapshot should also factor in what your goals are and what you'll need to accomplish in order to get there. This can include things like retirement planning, tax planning, and investment strategies.

Annual Financial Plan Check-Up

Now that you know what an annual financial plan is and how to make one, let’s recap the most important steps in the process. Check off each step that you've considered, even if your response was, "No, I don't want to refinance my mortgage," or "My credit cards are already paid off." The idea is to make sure you've looked at the issue. But you do need to cover every item in our first section so that you have a full financial inventory.

Create Your Personal Financial Inventory

Your personal financial inventory is important because it gives you a snapshot of the health of your bottom line. This annual self-check should include:

  • A list of assets, including items like your emergency fund, retirement accounts, other investment and savings accounts, real estate equity, education savings, etc. (any valuable jewelry, such as an engagement ring, belongs here, too).

  • A list of debts, including your mortgage, student loans, credit cards, and other loans.

  • A calculation of your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of debt you have versus your total credit limit.

  • Your credit report and score.

  • A review of the fees you’re paying to a financial advisor if any,and the services he or she provides.

Set Financial Goals

Once you have a personal financial inventory completed, you can move on to setting goals for the remainder of the year, or even for the next 12 months. Your goals will be short-term, mid-term and long-term.

Among your short-term goals might be to:

  • Establish a budget.

  • Create an emergency fund or increase your emergency fund savings.

  • Pay off credit cards.

Your mid-term goals might include:

  • Get life insurance and disability income insurance.

  • Think about your dreams, such as buying a first home or vacation home, renovating, moving – or saving so that you'll have money to have a family or to send children or grandchildren to college.

Then, review your long-term goals, including:

  • Determine how much of a nest egg you’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement.

  • Figure out how to increase your retirement savings.

Focus on Family

If you’re married, there are certain things that you and your spouse should be thinking about on the financial front. These are some of the items that may be on your punch list:

  • If you have children, determine how much you’ll need to save for future college expenses.

  • Choose the right college saving account.

  • If you are caring for elderly parents, investigate whether long-term care insurance or life insurance can help.

  • Purchase life innnsurace for yourself and your spouse.

  • Start to plan how you and your spouse will time your retirement, including your Social Security claiming strategy.

Review Your Investments

It’s important for investors to take stock of where their investments are during the annual financial planning process. This is especially true when the economy undergoes a shift, as is happening now.

  • Check your asset allocation. If stocks are taking a dive, for example, you may consider adding real estate investments into yourportfolio mix to offset some of the volatility.

  • Then figure out which investments will do the best job of meeting your asset allocation goals – and whether your current investments still fit that profile.

Rebalance Your Portfolio

Periodically rebalance your portfolio ensures that you’re not carrying too much risk or wasting your investment dollars on securities that aren't generating a decent rate of return. It also makes sure that your current portfolio reflects your investment strategy (changes in the market often cause a shift that needs to be corrected to maintain the diversification you originally planned).

  • Look at which asset classes you have in your portfolio and where the gaps are. If necessary, refocus your investments to even things out.

  • Consider the costs of managing your portfolio .

Plan on Addressing Tax Planning for Investments

While you’re looking over your portfolio and rebalancing, don’t forget to factor in how selling off assets may affect your tax liability. If you’re selling investments at a profit, you’ll be responsible for paying short- or long-term capital gain tax, depending on how long you held the assets.This step can wait until the end of the year. When you get to that point in time, you'll want to consider these strategies:

  • Harvest tax losses by replacing losing investment with different ones to offset a potentially higher tax bill.

  • Look into whether you should offset capital gains and losses.

  • Investigate whether it makes sense to use appreciated securities to make charitable donation or support lower-income family members.

Update Your Financial Emergency Plan

A sizable emergency fund is helpful if you run into a financial rainy day; be sure you have socked away adequate resources. While you’re at it, look at your broader emergency plan as a whole.

  • If you don’t have three to six months’ worth of expenses tucked away, building your emergency savings should be a top priority.

  • Invest in insurance: Are you covered for a temporary disability, for example?

  • Make sure you have a financial and medical power of attorney in place.

Look Ahead to Future Savings

As you move into the fall, think about where else you could be saving money to fully fund your emergency savings and put aside more for the future. Consider whether you should:

  • Refinance your mortgage.

  • Rethink your car insurance.

  • Lower your food bill.

  • Utilize Flex spending or health saving accounts.

  • Cut the cable TV cord.

  • Curb your energy bill.

  • Divert your paycheck to savings, by contributing more to retirement accounts or funneling money directly from your paycheck to an emergency savings account.

The Bottom Line

An annual financial plan is an exceptionally valuable tool for your life (and peace of mind) today and for your future. Best-case scenario: you've checked off all the items on this punch list by now. If not, don’t hesitate to pencil in time on your calendar to do so.

Imp.Note: We are registered NJ Wealth Partners and this interview published is sourced from NJ Wealth with due permissions. Reproduction of this interview/article/content in any form or medium by any means without prior written permissions of NJ India Invest Pvt. Ltd. is strictly prohibited.
  • We are just a call away! Call us or leave a message to get free consultancy from our financial planner.

    Required *

      Refresh Captcha