WHAT QUESTIONS MIGHT PROMPT YOU TO SEEK PLANNING ASSISTANCE?

 

Have you created a personal balance sheet that shows your net worth?

  •     Do you have an emergency fund?  Between three and six months' worth of expenses in cash is a place to start.
  •     Do you have more assets than debts?
  •     Have you updated your balance sheet in the last two years?
  •     For a sample balance sheet, see "Examples of Planning Documentation" on this site.
  •     Have you put together a budget that specifies how much you will save each month?
  •     Have you stuck to it?
  •     How are you tracking how much you spend?
  •     Are you saving enough to reach your goals?

Are you participating in a company retirement plan like a 401(k) or a 403(b) plan?

  •     Are you saving enough to qualify for the employer match?
  •     Are you taking advantage of catch-up contributions if you are over 50?

Is your debt under control?

  •     Do you pay off your credit cards monthly?
  •     If you owe money, do you know the interest rate you are paying?
  •     Do you worry about your debt?

If you have children, do you have a college funding plan in place?

  •     Are you using the appropriate funding vehicle(s)?

What is your portfolio's mix of stocks and bonds?

  •     If the market dropped 10% in a month, would you sell out of worry or would you still be comfortable with your plan?
  •     Are you spreading your investments across liquid accounts, real estate, taxable investments, and
        retirement accounts?
  •     Have you identified the "core" of your portfolio?  What investments are outside of this "core" and why are they in
        your portfolio?
  •     Do you have an investment policy statement updated within the last two years?
  •     Are your assets held in the most tax-efficient manner possible?

Have you run a retirement projection?  At what age can you start to think about other options?

  •     What sources of income will you have in retirement?
  •     How will those income streams be taxed?
  •     Have you considered the sequence of withdrawals?  What makes sense to use first?  After that?
  •     Do you need to adjust the rate of distributions you are taking?
  •     Do you have retirement plan assets from prior employers that should be rolled over to an IRA?
  •     Would you benefit from a Roth IRA?

Are you confident about the date you intend to file for Social Security benefits?

  •     Have you thought about the length of time you might be collecting benefits?
  •     Do you know the pro's and con's of filing and suspending or filing for a restricted spousal benefit?

If you have stock options, do you have a strategy for exercising and selling the shares?

Have you studied your tax return for ideas on how to better manage your taxes?

  •     Have you been offsetting losses with gains to reduce taxes?

Do you have an up-to-date estate plan?

  •     Are your assets titled in such a way that they will flow to the proper recipient at your passing?
  •     Do you know who is listed as the beneficiaries on all of your life insurance policies, annuities, IRA's, retirement
        plans, and trusts?