The Ultimate Guide to Financial Planning
If you want to create a strong financial future for yourself and your family then you have to have a plan. It’s as simple as that. Planning your finances is the best way to reach your goals and create security, and it can provide you with a roadmap that will lead you to long term financial success.
What is financial planning?
When trying to build wealth, you could just put all your money into a bank account and hope that the combination of adding savings and interest will help it to grow. This is better than doing nothing, but if you apply some actual financial planning strategies and knowledge to your money then you are likely to see much better results.
Financial planning is not just about growing wealth, but also includes managing taxes, staying on top of changing regulations, tracking exchange rates and monitoring economic factors.
It can be particularly important at certain stages in your life, such as when you’re getting married, starting and raising a family, preparing for retirement and estate planning, or going into aged care. It can also be useful when you are looking to explore new opportunities such as investing in the stock market or buying property.
Why work with a financial planner?
It’s a good idea to enlist the help of an expert financial planner as they can provide you with helpful guidance and advice that could make a huge difference to your success in the long run. And it’s not just for the wealthy.
Some people think financial planners are only for high earners, but this simply isn’t true. A good financial planner can help individuals at all income levels assess their money and create a strategy for building wealth in the future that is about more than just budgeting.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that financial planning is a one-off thing. Getting a strong plan in place that works towards your personal goals is important, but then you need to keep monitoring your progress and making adjustments as your circumstances (or goals) change.
It might feel risky putting your finances into someone else’s hands but never forget that you’re the one in control, even when you work with a financial planner. They are there to guide and advise you, to give you ideas and make suggestions you might not have considered on your own. But ultimately you’re the one who makes all the decisions about your finances and you always get the final say on what happens to your money.
A financial planner is simply an added layer of support, and working with one can help you:
- Make smart financial decisions
- Save time and effort
- Save money
- Find the right assets to invest
- Build wealth
- Plan for expected or unexpected life events
When do I need financial advice?
A financial planner can be useful at many different stages throughout your life. Indeed, approximately 20% of all working Australians at all career levels are now turning to financial planners for help, and they are reaping the benefits of getting expert guidance. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Aussie economy, worth over $4.6 billion in revenue, with over $4 trillion in funds under management by more than 25,000 planners across the country.
Many people will feel the need for financial advice later in life, as the Australian population is aging so it will become increasingly important to have your own financial retirement strategy in place for your twilight years. But you need to start thinking about it long before this, so you can put the building blocks in place for financial growth, and the sooner you start the better off you will be in the end.
Consider these stages of life, and what you could be doing to plan your financial future:
- Childhood: This is a good time to develop a basic positive mindset towards financial growth with the help of a piggy bank. Teaching your kids to save their money and spend or invest it wisely is a good base for their future. At this point, financial management can be taught at home.
- Young adult: As you get a little older, it’s time to start thinking about things like establishing your career, building a business, starting a family and buying your own home. This is a good time to start getting expert advice on managing savings, paying off student loans, exploring investment opportunities and setting up insurance.
- Midlife: This is when you are likely to have established a stable career and are looking for advice relating to reducing debt, consolidating your investments, paying off your mortgage, managing taxes and planning your healthcare.
- Pre-retirement: At this stage you’ll be looking for advice on protecting your wealth, planning for retirement and making sure you have enough money to cover your hobbies and travels, helping your children and grandchildren financially, and planning for aged care. This article has some good suggestions for this stage of life.
- Retirement: Once you’ve made it to this point, you’ll want advice on eliminating debt, transferring wealth, executing your will, gifting assets to your family and estate planning.
How do I determine my financial goals?
Broadly speaking, more people are looking to simplify their finances and grow wealth. But your specific financial goals at any one time will depend on what you are doing in your life.
For example, if you have recently graduated from university then your goal might be to work out an efficient way to pay off your student loans. If you’ve just started in your first job, you might need help setting up a savings plan, tax accounts and super. If you’re establishing a business, you might need advice on managing loans and cash flow. If you’re dipping your toe into investing, you might need help understanding dividends. If you’re looking to take out a loan, you might want assistance building up your credit score.
There are so many ways a good financial planner can help you by making suggestions, highlighting possible risks and offering recommendations based on your personal situation, your preferences and the general economic and political climate.
Can you manage your finances without a financial planner?
Of course! If you have the time and willingness to research all your options, there is nothing to stop you planning your finances by yourself. There is plenty of information online and in the H&R Block Tax Academy that can help you with this, and a variety of activities you can do to stay on top of your finances such as tracking your expenses, automating your bill payments and monitoring your credit score.
You should also check out MoneyHub, a free financial management tool created by H&R Block, as it’s fantastic way to do all of these things.
Moneyhub helps you get a complete overview of your finances and puts you in control. It allows you to check your credit score for free, then monitor and improve it over time, link multiple bank accounts to track your expenses and even tag potential tax deductions so that at tax time it’s all ready to export to your tax agent. Plus the platform has exclusive offers across a wide range of categories tailored to your credit score.
It’s fast, free and super easy to use, and has some fantastic features such as the Spend Tracker, which allows you to log expenses and tag them for tax time. Click here to find out more about Moneyhub.
Whether you choose to manage your money yourself or enlist the help of a financial planner, the most important thing is to have a strategy of some sort that will help you shape your future and build wealth throughout the different stages of your life.
Good financial planning is a lifelong project and having the right knowledge and tools can bring huge benefits, from a nest egg on retirement to much needed peace of mind.