Financial planning is all about charting a clear path to achieving your financial goals. Here are five tips to help you cover your bases and get what you want from life:
#1: Build up your cash reserves for emergencies
The first step in financial planning is to save for a rainy day. Start by establishing an emergency fund, which should total about three to six months of your salary. You never know when an unexpected emergency may hit, be it a job loss or medical issue. Additionally, adequate insurance protection is necessary as substantial life savings and assets can be wiped out or quickly drained if we do not plan for the possibility of unforeseen events like premature death, illness or disability. Protect yourself and your family with adequate insurance coverage so that you would have the financial security to maintain your current lifestyle should such unfortunate events befall you.
#2: Develop good habits for wealth accummulation
Small, consistent actions can add up to a lot. Develop simple habits that help you systematically accummulate wealth and achieve your financial goals. Start by identifying your short-term goals, which can include saving for a dream vacation, building a house fund for property purchase, and planning for your child’s tertiary education in 10 years. An endowment plan lets you do this with ease. Furthermore, it encourages a disciplined and consistent approach to saving through regular premium contributions, while the compounding return on investment helps your funds grow.
Long-term goals are those that give you financial security for your future. This includes retirement planning. It may not seem like a high priority when you are still young, but retirement planning is a key component of financial planning, and it is never too early to start preparing for it. Some companies may offer their employees a pension fund but as this is becoming increasingly rare in today’s workforce, it is important that each individual takes control of his or her financial future. Besides general saving plans that can add to your retirement fund, you should also have a dedicated retirement plan in place. If you don’t have one, be sure to open up a retirement plan soon because the earlier you start, the more time you have for it to mature, and for your funds to grow, resulting in a bigger life annuity amount you will receive once the plan matures.
#3: Invest in your health and financial wellbeing
Diversify your portfolio and follow an asset allocation strategy which is within your risk threshold. An investment-linked insurance plan is a good umbrella policy that has both life insurance and investment components. It allows you to get insurance protection while a percentage of the premiums you pay are invested and the returns add up and grow into a lump sum benefit you can enjoy when the policy matures. Most investment-linked insurance policies also have the flexibility of varying the insurance coverage and investment mix, which will be useful if and when your financial needs change.
#4: Hire professional help
With so many insurance and financial products in the market, it may be very confusing for you to make sense of them all! Thus, it may be wise to engage the expertise of a professional financial planner who can help you determine your specific needs and tailor the most suitable financial plan for you.
Remember that financial plans should not be set in stone and neither do cookie-cutter plans work well for everyone. Your financial planning should evolve as your life circumstances change (marriage, career promotions, etc), and it’s good to have a trusted financial planner in your inner circle to help you examine your plan from time to time and adapt it to your changing needs.
Besides, it’s better to leave our financial planning to the experts because our emotions may sometimes get in the way of judicious decision-making. Your financial planner may also be able to uncover some blind spots you may have missed, and help you cover all your bases more holistically.
#5: Be prudent
Your financial planning will only be bear fruit if you stick to the plan. No one grows a tree only to dig it up every month to see how the roots are doing. Likewise, assets need time to grow. If you realise you need to be more disciplined about sticking to the plan and/or the budgets you’ve set, seek help from friends and family so that they can help you stay accountable and rein in your spending if need be.
With the right approach to financial planning, you should be able to balance all three pillars of earning, spending and saving to secure a comfortable future for yourself.