You are ultimately in charge of your finances, and the results you derive from working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ will be so much more robust if you avoid these common mistakes.
- Setting goals in the cloud. Not the online cloud, but ones that seem like a good idea but aren’t likely to come true. Lottery goals, for example. Instead, create specific targets for what you want to achieve and when you want to see results. Instead of saying you want to be "comfortable" when you retire or that you want your children to attend "good" schools, define exactly what "comfortable" and "good" mean so you'll know when you've reached your goals. Is “comfortable” living in a $250,000 house? $500,000? $1.5 million? Is a good school worth $7,000 a year? $10,000? $30,000?
- Understand the effects of each financial decision. Every financial decision you make can affect several other areas of your life like waves. An investment decision may have tax consequences that harm your estate plans. Or a decision about your child's education may negatively impact your retirement goals. Remember that all of your financial decisions are interrelated.
- Reevaluate your finances periodically. Financial planning is dynamic. Your financial goals will change over the years with changes in your lifestyle or circumstances, such as an inheritance, marriage, birth, house purchase or change of job status. Revisit and revise your financial plan as time goes by so you stay on track to meet your long-term goals. A CFP® professional can offer financial planning advice to help you achieve your goals.
- Start planning as soon as you can. Save early and often. People who save or invest small amounts of money early and often tend to do better than those who wait until later in life. By developing good financial planning habits such as saving, budgeting, investing and regularly reviewing your finances, you will be better prepared to handle emergencies and life changes.
- Be realistic in your expectations. Financial planning applies common sense to managing your finances. It cannot change your situation overnight, but over time, you’ll see results. Remember that events beyond your control, such as inflation or changes in the stock market or interest rates, will affect your results.
- You are not alone. Just as you seek a doctor's expert opinion for medical issues, there are times when you need a qualified financial planning professional to provide financial advice. Working with a CFP® professional, you can be assured that you’ll have consistent expertise and guidance available to you throughout your planning process.
- Realize that you are in charge. If you're working with a CFP® professional, be sure you understand the financial planning process. Ask questions about the recommendations offered to you, and play an active role in decision-making.