12 for ’12: Leaping into Financial Confidence
Consumer Advocate Outlines the Best Way to Take Stock of Your Financial Situation
February 16, 2012 – Lack of time is one of the main excuses people use to avoid tasks. Well thanks to the Leap Year, everyone will get an extra 24 hours this month to devote to those outstanding items on their checklist – like getting an honest view of their financial standing. According to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, consumers should use this bonus time to peel back the layers of their financial lives and do a true self-assessment, one of the key steps in CFP Board’s year-long “12 for ’12 Approach to Financial Confidence.”
“You may be thinking ‘I don’t have time’ for all that searching and assessment,” Blayney says. “The good news is that you get a whole extra day. So find four or five hours of the bonus 24, sharpen your pencils, fire up your computer or tablet and take stock of where you are right now.”
Blayney recommends gathering relevant financial documents like your most recent tax return, your last paystub, and the latest statements for your retirement and investment accounts and asking the following questions:
- What is your gross and net income, and what are your expenses?
- What do you have in terms of financial assets (savings and investment accounts, real estate, retirement plans, etc.)?
- What are your debts, both in terms of amounts outstanding as well as what you pay each month?
- What workplace benefits do you receive?
- What insurance coverage do you have to protect your health, income, life, property, or need for physical assistance?
- How are your assets titled and who gets them when you are no longer here?
Answering all these questions at one time, in one place is a key first step to building a sound foundation for a financial plan.
“Knowing your starting point is necessary for figuring out how far you have to go to achieve your goals, or if, indeed, those goals are feasible,” Blayney says. “By focusing on exactly where you stand, you’ll be taking a big leap toward financial confidence in 2012.”
12 FOR ’12: AN APPROACH TO FINANCIAL CONFIDENCE: In January, CFP Board launched a new initiative called “12 for ’12 Approach to Financial Confidence” where all the components and steps for successful personal financial management are presented, one each month throughout the year including: establishing realistic goals, tax planning, emergency and risk management, investing, retirement, debt management, and estate planning.
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