Financial Planning Toolkit - Planning Guide

The Financial Planning Process

If knowledge is power, then perhaps the most powerful knowledge you can have is self-knowledge. In fact, financial planning can be viewed as simply a lifelong process of updating certain aspects of your self-knowledge. While planning for, and reacting to, life events often is more art than science, financial planning gives us the power to deal with the quantitative aspects of some possible scenarios and their consequences.

Navigating competently through the life stages of employment, marriage, home ownership, parenting, eldercare, divorce, retirement and ultimately death -- and all the stops in between -- requires knowledge acquired through continual self-education. The conscious management of your financial circumstances, however modest they may be from time to time, enables you to anticipate opportunities and prepare for contingencies. This approach should give you better choices when life's inevitable events, adverse or otherwise, occur.

Let's begin by helping you determine where you are now -- your starting point in your quest for self-knowledge! Then we'll encourage you to decide where you want to be, helping you to define goals and objectives for the future. The next step will be developing a road map for getting from Point A to Point B. Then we turn to the nuts and bolts of the planning process: investing, managing risk and insurance, handling debt and credit, understanding the all-important concept of the time value of money, and planning for your retirement and your estate.

Whether you work your way through this material systematically or dip into its various topics serendipitously, we hope these tools will smooth your journey and assure your success.

  • The Plan: We'll show you how to get started by taking inventory of your current assets, budget, and other arrangements; setting and quantifying goals; and developing a plan to get "from here to there."
  • The Nuts & Bolts: This section will give you a fundamental understanding of the all-important "time value of money." We'll also help you examine the elements of your plan, including investing, retirement planning, getting insurance, borrowing and using credit, tax planning, the importance of having a will, and options for ensuring the right people receive your assets.
Investing Saving for Retirement