Answering financial planning questions is something that I am passionate about and absolutely love to do. Although when I think about what’s important in my business, it is not so much answering those questions (because lots of times people don’t understand, remember, or get around to it), it’s really about getting to the heart of the important issues and knowing the right questions to ask. Most of the questions I hear are usually about something they need to do right away or they are reacting to recent news events. As we head into the holiday mayhem, take a few minutes to reflect on what you’re concerned about.
Here’s my top 20 list for you to determine what’s most important in your life right now:
- Do you know how much you save or spend each year?
- What is my current net worth?
- What are the ten most important things I want to accomplish while you’re on this Earth?
- Am I borrowing money the most efficiently?
- How much am I investing in my own human capital or that of my children and grandchildren so they can earn the most during their working years?
- Do I have the proper choices in my retirement or 401(k) plan and is it enough to allow me to retire when I intend to?
- Do I have the proper amount in an emergency fund?
- If something were to happen to me, will my family be able to put everything together?
- Do I have the proper amount of insurance so my family will be taken care of if I die, become disabled or am sued?
- Does long term care make sense for me?
- Is my estate plan up to date and do I have a will, a durable power of attorney, a healthcare proxy, or a trust?
- Is there anything else I can do to reduce my income taxes that I’m not doing now?
- What is my risk tolerance and how much risk am I taking right now?
- What is my current asset allocation with all the things I own?
- Have I named the proper beneficiaries of my insurance and retirement accounts?
- What has been my rate of return over the years and is it competitive to the respective benchmarks?
- Am I up to date on the latest investments like Exchange-Traded Funds and Alternative Investments that may be negatively correlated to the stock market?
- If I only had 5 years to live, what would I change in my life?
- If money were no object, what would I be doing right now?
- If I found out I was going to die tomorrow, what do I regret not doing?
I’ll admit that I think my last three questions are my favorites. They were developed by the financial planning star named George Kinder, of the Kinder Institute, who wrote the book The Seven Stages of Money Maturity. It’s essential to make sure that you answer the questions that are important in your life and that they align with your finances. In fact, the motto of our firm is to help you “connect your money with your life.”
The 19th century writer Marcel Proust had some really powerful questions that you might want to ask yourself as well. Below are a few of them that a journalism professor, client and friend of mine used to help aspiring writers develop plots. I think these might inspire you and get you thinking for a while:
- What is your most marked characteristic?
- When were you the happiest?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is your greatest extravagance?
- Which talent would you most like to have?
- What is your motto?
I’m sure there are a number of important questions that I didn’t include on this list. I’d love to hear yours so that I can write about them in my future blogs. In fact, I guess I have 20 blogs lined up in case I have writers block next month! Happy holidays and happy hunting for your questions and answers in life!
Securities and Financial Planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC .
Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
Dave Caruso, CFP®
Certified Financial Planner™
Coastal Capital Group