GENERATIONS

Building Financial Discipline

To Accomplish Your Goals, Take Control of Your Finances

05.01.2018

The first step toward achieving any goal in life is developing a plan. In your financial life, that begins by taking stock of your assets, liabilities and sources of income. With a clear understanding of entire financial picture and your personal balance sheet in hand, you’ll be prepared to make smart decisions that move you closer to your goals. In other words, you’ll have more financial discipline in your life.

Taking a Financial Inventory

To create your personal balance sheet, start by compiling a list of your assets, liabilities, financial accounts and physical property, along with their current market values. As you gather this information, be sure to make a note of where you keep any related legal documents (such as contracts, titles and other documents that offer proof of ownership) and write down the names and numbers of any attorneys or financial advisors you work with. If you manage any accounts online, keep a secure record of usernames and passwords so they’ll be easily accessible (but safe and secure).

Be sure to include an emergency fund of three to six months of living expenses.

Identify Your Savings Bucket

Start by identifying your financial assets, which can usually be grouped into “buckets” that include savings for short-term and long-term goals. Identifying these buckets will help you to save and invest in the most appropriate manner possible, minimize taxes and eventually leave behind a lasting legacy for future generations, if that is one of your goals.

Locate Your Physical Property

Next, list all of your substantial physical assets, their current values or estimated values,  and the location of any related documents. Be sure to include details about the structures and characteristics of your assets. For example, if you own a vacation home, include its purchase price, current estimated market value, annual property taxes and insurance coverage. Don’t forget about valuables such as fine jewelry, artwork and rare collectibles.

Estimate Your Monthly Expenses

Now assemble all your fixed expenses for necessities such as food, clothing and shelter; and variable expenses for luxuries such as entertainment, personal travel and dining out.

Estimate Your Monthly Income

Make a note of all income you receive on a regular basis and heir sources, including your paycheck (after taxes and other deductions).  If you receive periodic distributions from a trust or other source of income on a regular basis and expect it to continue, include that number as well.

Develop a Personal Budget

Your final step is to calculate the difference between your monthly income and expenses to see where you stand today and start planning for the future.

  • If you have a surplus: Congratulations, you are practicing financial discipline are making progress toward your goals . You can create a budget and start allocating more money to your highest-priority savings buckets. The “generations” section of our website offers more guidance on the most effective ways to save for college, plan for retirement and invest for long-term goals.
  • If your number falls short: Don’t be discouraged. Look for items that can be trimmed from your lit of discretionary expenses and explore other sources additional income to help fill the gap. In order to stick to a savings plan, many people find it helpful to schedule automatic transfers from their paychecks into their savings or retirement accounts. In some situations, it might make also make sense to sell certain assets and re-allocate the proceeds toward your goals. A financial professional can help you identify the most appropriate assets to sell , offer guidance on the best timing and structure of a sale and explain all the potential tax implication.

Staying on Track

If you are just starting out, keep in mind that your earning potential is likely to improve as you advance in your professional life, pursue your entrepreneurial dreams or take a more active role in the family business. But you’ll still need the discipline to keep your expenses in line.

While it may seem impossible to predict your financial situation years into the future, understanding your trajectory will help you design a roadmap that leads your intended destination. With your personal balance sheet as a starting point, we can help project your future income and expenses under various scenarios. As your earning capacity improves, you will be able to track the progress you’re making toward your goals and keep your expenses in check, and make any necessary adjustments to keep you on track.

 

 

This communication is intended solely to provide general information. The information and opinions stated are as of May 8, 2018, unless otherwise noted, and may change without notice. The information and opinions do not represent a complete analysis of every material fact. Statements of fact have been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed are not intended as individual investment, tax or estate planning advice or as a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Please consult your personal advisor to determine whether this information may be appropriate for you. This information is provided solely for insight into our general management philosophy and process. Historical performance does not guarantee future results and results may differ over future time periods.

IRS Circular 230 Notice: Pursuant to relevant U.S. Treasury regulations, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from your tax advisor.

CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are trademarks owned by CFA institute.

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