Financial Planning Month
October is Financial Planning Month, which centers around getting your money in order, such as investing, creating a budget, or planning for retirement. While there’s never a wrong time to review your financial situation, October is ideal with the approaching holidays and a new year.
Financial planning dates back to the 1960s and has evolved along with retirement plans, 401(k)s, and the stock market. Financial Planning Month is a time to focus on your personal monetary goals and create a plan to reach them.
What is Financial Planning?
Financial planning is the first stepping stone to achieving financial success. Understanding how much money you need to cover bills, eliminate debt, and reach goals is a great way to start planning. There are several perks to financial planning, but some of the main ones are:
- Gain motivation. Seeing and understanding your financial situation can help motivate you to move forward — whether that’s by opening a savings account or learning how to invest.
- Start setting goals. Learning about your current financial standing and thinking about your future will help you set financial goals to meet the bigger-picture goals for your life.
- Make an action plan. Seeing where you are financially versus where you want to be can help you create an action plan to reach your goals.
- Achieve mental clarity. Having a clear understanding of your money situation can ease anxiety, even if you’re not exactly where you want to be yet.
- Create performance standards. Use your financial goals to set performance standards. Did your investment work as well as you’d hoped? Did you get the best rate of return to match the risk you are able or willing to take? Tracking performance can help you improve year-over-year.
- Improve your financial situation. Having a plan means you’ll be better prepared for emergencies, more significant expenses, and retirement.
How to celebrate Financial Planning Month
There are several different ways to celebrate Financial Planning Month, depending on who you are:
Take this month to consider different investment opportunities that fit your budget.
- Understand your financial goals. What are they, and what progress have you made toward them?
- Know where you stand. Understanding where you’re at financially will help you make smart choices in the future.
- Create a plan of action. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
- Invest in your future and pay yourself first. Ensure you’re contributing the most you can to your 401(k), and at least enough to capture the full amount of any employer match.
- Don’t miss a savings deposit. Automate deposits into your savings account(s) so you won’t ever forget.
- Determine your risk tolerance – how much risk you can take without creating anxiety – so that you can choose savings and investments that don’t exceed your tolerance.
- Talk to a financial advisor. See what advice a professional can offer to improve your investment choices.
Whether you have an internship or a steady part-time job, it’s critical for students to understand how to manage their finances. With student loans at its peak, students are entering the workforce with mountains of debt. Here’s what you can do now:
- Talk to your friends and family about money. People can be funny about money, but eliminate the stigma surrounding it and talk to those you trust about managing and investing.
- Create a budget. A budget doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it can help you reach your financial goals and avoid taking on unnecessary debt (like credit card debt).
- Start tracking your expenses. One way to understand your financial situation is to see where your money is going.
- Make a long-term plan for eliminating debt. Between student loans, car payments, or credit cards, be smart about debt and how you plan to pay it off.
- Consider a career in financial services. Who knows, maybe Financial Planning Month will inspire you to make a career shift!
A financial planner helps individuals and organizations set up a system to meet their financial goals.
- Give back and help others in need with their finances. Consider volunteering with organizations like the Foundation for Financial Planning.
- Connect with your kids and young family members. No matter their age, you can find ways of speaking to them about financial planning, whether with allowance and chores, taking them to a bank to set them up a savings account, or teaching them to budget their birthday and holiday money for more significant financial goals like a new bike instead of more minor immediate perks.
- Find communities you can connect with. Whether your kid’s school offers a career day or the local VA community center might be willing to offer a financial planning class, find ways to connect with people who don’t typically have exposure to financial advice. Sometimes really simple things such as budgeting have never been explained to people, and you can help make planning relatable, even for people without large portfolios.
- Offer a mentorship or internship. Connect with college wealth management programs that would work with students interested in the field and offer them a real-life experience in the field or a couple of hours of your time so they can ask questions about the industry.
Financial Planning Month is a great opportunity to start or continue your efforts to organize your financial situation. Get your financial plan in order this month, so you can maintain it during the holidays and into the new year. Happy Financial Planning Month!