Getting Help After Divorce, Part 1 – How Does Financial Planning Work?
Once you have completed your divorce, the list of things to figure out can be daunting. It can be easy to push off those things that don’t seem to affect your daily routine. Some of those things that you have been putting off are likely financial – a lump sum distribution from the divorce just sitting in cash, a 401(k) in need of rollover or perhaps a credit card balance that never seems to get any smaller.
It’s time to make understanding your financial situation part of the process of building a new life. The longer you wait, the greater likelihood that your inaction will impact your long-term financial success. If you don’t know where to start, then it may be a good idea to seek out the assistance of a financial planner. While financial planners may have specialties, the financial planning process is fairly standard for all planners. At the core of the financial planning processes is evaluating your financial needs and goals, and helping you take steps toward meeting those needs and goals. The general steps to the financial planning process are as follows:
1. Determining your financial goals
What are you looking to achieve? Do you need to invest that cash in your savings account or rollover a 401(k)? Do you need to figure out how you are going to pay for your child’s college education? Do you need to get a firm handle on your expenses and cash flow? (budgeting)
2. Gathering your information
If you have recently completed your divorce, this step should be easy. For your divorce, you needed to collect all of your financial information. You can just pass this information on to a financial planner (bank, retirement, and investment statements, liabilities (credit cards, car loan, mortgage), and your income information, such as a pay stub and a tax return. A copy of your divorce decree also provides pertinent information.
3. Analyzing your information
The financial planner will stitch together all of the financial documents in your life to create a picture of your financial situation.
4. Creating your financial plan
A financial plan lays out your financial goals and your financial situation. From there, your financial planner will work with you to create a plan of action for meeting your financial goals, based on your financial situation.
5. Implementing your financial plan
Your financial plan is going to be a little different from everyone else’s plan. Implementation of a financial plan can take many forms as well. It may involve reallocating your portfolio, setting up a program to save for college, purchasing insurance, or creating a budget.
5. Monitoring the progress of your financial plan
In the stock market and life, things happen, situations change. Financial plans are not engraved in stone, never to be changed. They have to be flexible to adapt to the changes that happen in the financial markets and in life.
While the financial planning process is fairly standard across the industry, the financial products and solutions recommended by financial planners are not. Much like your physical health, if you are not sure if the recommended products or plan of action are best for your financial health, seek a second opinion. You are more likely to be committed to following a financial plan if you understand the financial products in your portfolio and are certain that your financial planner has put your interests first.
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