Written by Nicolas Allen CFP®
We’re busier than ever these days. Constant notifications, work travel, kids’ activities and other important tasks are often competing for our immediate attention. Amid our packed schedules, it can be easy to set our finances on autopilot. If you can relate to this feeling, know there are several simple steps you can do in 10 minutes to feel more confident about your finances. The following are five suggestions:
Identify (or update) your financial goals. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities that leave you little time to consider your future goals. While it is easy to procrastinate about planning for long-term items, it’s important to start laying the groundwork for your future financial security. Take 10 minutes to jot down your goals for the next year, two-to-five years, and for the years beyond as a starting point.
Understand your cash flow. In this era of side gigs, freelance work and second jobs, it’s common to have income flowing in from more than one source. Or, perhaps a large percentage of your annual income fluctuates over time, based on bonuses or the timeline of projects you complete. No matter how your income comes in, it’s crucial to understand the sources and timing of your cash flow. Take 10 minutes to review your expected income for the next one-to-three months so you can spend with confidence.
Enroll or log-in to digital tools to check your progress. Many banks and financial planning firms provide websites and apps to help you monitor your finances or take action on the go. Checking in on your money periodically can help you monitor for fraudulent transactions, track investment growth or move assets between accounts in real-time, before such tasks become a major to-do.
Call your parents. As your parents’ approach or navigate retirement, you may have questions about how they plan to spend or finance their day-to-day activities – as well as what their intensions are with their assets upon their death. Take 10 minutes today to call your parents to express your desire to have a sit-down conversation to discuss these matters. Reinforce with them that you do not mean to pry or need to know the full details of their finances. Rather, the goal of the conversation is for you to learn at a high-level what your parents’ plans are and see if and how you can help with any tasks.
Call your kids. If you wonder about your parents’ future plans, it’s possible your kids may have similar questions about your financial situation. Call your kids to explain you want to have a conversation so they know what the plan is, should you experience a serious health event or pass away early. Again, you don’t need to share all the details. Consider giving them contact information for the professionals you work with and providing an overview of what they can expect from you in retirement.
If you’re really pressed for time, engaging the right professionals can help keep you accountable to achieving your goals. If you’re already working with an attorney, tax professional and financial advisor, take 10 minutes to schedule check-ins to review your finances in more detail. If you are seeking additional advice, use the time to ask a trusted friend for a referral or to do some research on who may be a good fit to work with you. Many professionals offer free consultations so you can learn more about their approach to helping clients before you sign on the dotted line.
Nicolas Allen, CFP® is a Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Fresno, CA. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 11 years. To contact him, consider http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/nicolas.j.allen, (559) 490-7030 option 2, or 7433 N. First Street, Suite 102 Fresno, CA 93720.