Financial Planning – The Key To Your Lifelong Success

Financial planning is not limited to asset allocation, mutual funds, and fixed-income investments – planning should include every aspect of your life.

Should you apply for that credit card? What type of car insurance should you buy? Should we save for our child’s college or put money in our IRA’s instead? These and many more questions are all part of financial planning.

The Larry Rule – A Little Known Financial Planning Fact

Larry Lindsey is not a famous name, even in financial circles. Currently, Mr. Lindsey is the chief economic advisor to the Bush Administration. In 1996, he was a Federal Reserve Board Governor – and he was denied for a Toys ‘R Us credit card!

To apply or not to apply, that is the planning question. Larry Lindsey, who had excellent credit and a high-income level, set out to demonstrate a flaw in credit scoring algorithms.

He simply applied for every retail store credit card he was offered, and in no time he had “too many inquiries.” Never mind the fact that he had millions in assets and nary a late payment in his 30-year credit history.

Knowing the Larry Rule is key to your financial planning. If you apply for retail store credit cards every time you are asked to do so, it will have negative effects on your credit.

You may then be asked to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage or home equity loan, which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Sacrificing $10,000 for a 10 percent discount at Fashion Bug is not smart planning!

Auto Insurance and Financial Planning

Most people think of insurance as a legal necessity, but in reality, it is a financial product, and that’s important to keep in mind. Don’t ever buy insurance just because it’s legally required or in order to give yourself peace of mind. Insurance must serve a financial planning purpose!

You need to have a planning strategy in mind when you purchase auto insurance. The insurance company’s goal is to get you to pay more in premiums than you take out in claims – thus, they profit.

Your goal should to pay as little in premiums as possible in order to be adequately covered. You don’t want to have to use your auto insurance, but at the same time, you don’t want to be subsidizing the bad drivers who take out more in claims than they pay in.

In order to develop a financial planning strategy for auto insurance, it’s important that you become as educated as possible on the subject. Luckily, there are dozens of great sites on the internet that provide free information on the various types of auto insurance plans, and the particular laws of your state.

Everyone has to own some form of auto insurance, and thus it should be the cornerstone of any intelligent planning strategy.

The Financial Planning Dilemma – College vs. Retirement

American parents love their children and will do almost anything to ensure they have every possible advantage. As a result, many parents save for their children’s college instead of saving for their own retirement. This act of selflessness is usually not a good planning strategy.

In order to avoid this mistake, one must have a decent understanding of financial planning tax implications. Most college savings accounts are taxed on some level, whereas financial planning products for retirement purposes generally are not. What’s more, saving for your child’s college can prevent him or her from receiving the maximum financial aid available.

In other words, by foregoing your retirement in favor of your child’s college, you are actually subsidizing the children of less responsible parents – or smarter parents who chose to save for their own retirement, in light of these facts.

Getting Over Someone

Basic question here: how can I tell when I’m over someone and ready to be with someone else?

- C.G., Boston, MA

That is a basic question, but not a simple one. I’m not sure I can even answer it.

Sometimes hearing someone else’s experiences put things in perspective. Here is a situation concerning a person I dated, how I personally view it, and how I make it work for me. Maybe this example will help clear things up a little bit for you too.

In my life, I’ve seen a lot of relationships and been envious of very few. I see a lot of phoniness, relationships of convenience, and people together for all the wrong reasons.

But I knew that my relationship with her was something incredibly, incredibly special. I’d never felt anything like that; it was something totally different than all the rest I’d ever been in. It was comparing apples to oranges, as the saying goes.

In every way, I found her to be the most beautiful thing that I’d ever seen. We showed each other our best and our worst and remained together because we believed in each other as individuals and believed in us as a couple.

It’s interesting to think of all the things we are taught and all we are not. People are taught a million things growing up: how to read, how to use a stove without burning their hands, how to fold a towel, how to drive, and so on.

But we’re never taught some of the things that are imperative in relationships; we’re somehow expected to learn them as we go and by trial and error. I, like many others, never learned how to trust someone to give them all of my feelings, so I’d always held something back, which isn’t fair.

I also never learned how to forgive someone that I loved when they hurt me. And I certainly never learned what to do when you find someone who is perfect for you. It sounds like such a great thing, but it can be one of the most overwhelming feelings you ever experience because you want it to work out more than you want anything else in your life.

And sometimes, by the time you start to realize these things, it’s too late to make everything right.

Making her cry was the worst thing I’ve ever done and just thinking about it hurts me more than anything I’ve ever lost, never achieved, failed at, or I could really explain here.

And now she’s gone. We had talked about “forever” but this isn’t the kind of “forever” I thought we meant.

Who we were at the time we made our memories, we’ll always be – that man will always love that woman and that woman will always love him just as much. I still miss so many things about her, namely counting on – and believing in – us.

I still think about her every day and wonder, wonder, and wonder. I made her an enormous part of my life and now that she’s gone, that life as I knew it is too.

The pain is normal. But don’t think that because you feel pain you can’t move on. What happened between the two of you obviously affected you, so the hurting is expected. Truthfully, and unfortunately, it may be felt for a long, long time.

If you think about it, you probably still don’t feel great about the moment you found out you didn’t get that job you really wanted or a pet that died when you were a kid. You may never feel perfectly fine about this situation either.

What I realized, and what you must too, is that you have to move on. They have. They have their own life going, and whether it’s them being alone or them being with someone else – it’s still them being without you.

There is no other option; you can’t stay closed off and emotionally unavailable forever in hopes they will change their mind about you or that it will work out somehow. Knowing when to let go and move forward it is the hard part.

You don’t want to do it when you’re emotionally unavailable, angry at life, or will be anything but the best person you can be to whomever it is you end up with next. I don’t know if you’re there. Maybe you don’t even know if you’re there.

Calculate Needs Before Buying Insurance

Insurance mis-selling is prevalent and is damaging the development of the industry. In fact, majority of insurance experts accepted this fact on various occasions. Generally, intermediaries are the first to be responsible for it especially an agent who sells only those products that earn maximum commission. It is considered as the most popular reasoning in Indian insurance sector. However, there are various other reasons why a customer ends up purchasing a wrong policy. It means that it is not always mis-selling but sometimes mis-buying’ as well.
It may happen because of lack of awareness, buying insurance just to save tax and using policy as a tax saving tool. Some challenges are also experienced by financial planners as well to convenience customers why a product is correct for them, to get the right and full information from them for exact assessment of their profile and portfolio. To handle these procedural challenges, a few years ago, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority had proposed doing a customer need analysis’ before selling a life insurance policy. In January 2012, IRDA’s draft guidelines introduced and also proposed a mandate on intermediaries and the insurers to fill-up a standard need-analysis worksheet of the buyer before it affects sale of term insurance.
It was to make sure that the plan which is proposed to be sold is suitable for the prospect and fulfills policyholder’s requirements. Also, this is aimed at handling under-insurance and is widespread among insurance customers. Though, the proposal has not been implemented in the proposed format, a few insurance companies in India have introduced a few need analysis features. Different needs arise at different age stages, so this tool works by understanding the life stage customer is at, single, married, married with a child, nearing retirement and life after retirement are some very common stages in a product matrix.
Protection requirements are analyzed when customers have chosen life stages. For example, person with a child has more insurance needs as compared young, single person who does not have any dependents. These protection requirements reduce when dependents become independent and loans are paid. Customer’s next step should be assessing their targets and motive of purchasing insurance. Do you want to buy a policy for child’s future education requirements or accumulate a corpus for post-retirement life? Do not forget that the need for investment and savings are connected to the achievement of different financial goals and the plan customer buy must be able to fulfill these needs.
Generally, the need for regular income arises after retirement and customers also need more health cover with advancing age. The analysis tool will help buyers to calculate exact needs as per their goals and prioritization. There are several online tools available for goal-based long term wealth creation, retirement planning and health insurance requirements. A pension plan will be more important as compared to short-term goals such as buying a vehicle or a foreign tour. Those who do not have sufficient life insurance coverage should buy addition protection in terms of rider plans.