A Financial Plan Will Help You Move from Dreamer to Doer

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Are you a dreamer, a doer, a procrastinator or a planner?

Dreamers tend to have big goals for the future with few plans for making them happen. Doers are action-takers who focus on meeting today's demands and may overlook big-picture planning or dreaming about the future. Procrastinators tend to put off everything – dreaming, doing and planning – until tomorrow. Planners love making lists and being prepared, but it takes dreaming and doing to give their plans real direction.

So who needs a financial plan? They all do! And so do you.

Financial Planning Starts with You

Financial planning is not just for those who dream of sailing off into the sunset. It is essential for anyone who wants to get by, get out of debt, save for the future or protect current income and assets. Nothing extravagant, just a secure financial future. And the earlier you start planning, the greater the benefits will be in the long run.

A financial planner can help create a complete picture of your finances by drawing it all together – income; assets and liabilities; emergency savings; investments, property and other assets; your estimated CalSTRS or CalPERS benefit; your 403(b) or 457 plan balance; insurance policies; your will and other estate planning documents. With that knowledge, a financial planner can work with you to uncover ways to save, invest, grow and protect your money.

The resulting comprehensive financial plan can guide you through key financial decisions. It may cover the following areas:

  • Investment portfolio – reviewing and rebalancing your investment strategy to ensure it fits your timeline, goals and risk tolerance.
  • Retirement planning – determining if your retirement savings are on track and setting a strategy for tapping retirement assets when the time comes.
  • Insurance – exploring your insurance needs by doing a total risk assessment.
  • Estate planning – addressing needs for creating/updating a will and other estate planning documents, as well as tax liability, wealth conservation and transfer issues.

How to Choose a Financial Planner

There's no shortage of people claiming to be experts and giving financial advice, for better or worse. How do you choose a financial planner who will put your best interests first? For starters, follow these tips:

  1. Consider choosing a certified financial planner (CFP®). A CFP is licensed and regulated by the CFP Board.
  2. Consider pay structure. A financial planner working on commission may have incentive to sell investment products, whether they are the best choice for you or not. To avoid conflict of interest, choose a financial planner who charges a flat or hourly fee.
  3. Ask about code of ethics. Find out if a financial planner has taken a fiduciary oath, which means he or she promises to act in your best interests.

To learn more about choosing a financial planning professional, download "The CTA Guide to Working with a 403(b) or 457 Advisor." You may also wish to view the video, "Finding a Trustworthy Financial Advisor."