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Resources

Below is a list of resources and tools to help you learn more about financial planning and specific personal finance topics. If you are attending a Financial Planning Day in your area, we encourage you to review these resources so that you can get the most out of your experience at the event.

Websites

  • LetsMakeaPlan.org
    CFP Board’s consumer website that features information about financial planning, an advanced search function to find a CFP® professional, and a variety of educational content, publications, calculators and other helpful tools.
  • FoundationforFinancialPlanning.org
    The website for the Foundation for Financial Planning features downloadable financial planning content, including interactive spreadsheets, workbooks and presentations, and a Personal Financial Index tool that scores users on how well they manage finances and offers personalized recommendations.
  • FPAnet.org
    Visit FPA’s robust financial planning website to access PlannerSearch, a service that will connect you to CFP® professionals, and a variety of personal finance content to help you achieve your financial goals.
  • BeDollarWise.org
    “DollarWise – Mayors for Financial Literacy” is the official financial education initiative of The United States Conference of Mayors and its Council on Metro Economies and the New American City. Since its inception in 2004, mayors and cities across America have made a commitment to increasing access to financial education for their citizens by participating in DollarWise initiatives, such as support for Financial Planning Days in cities across the country.

Publications by Topic

The following educational publications contain a wealth of information about financial planning and key personal finance topics, as well as guidance for finding a qualified financial planner.

General Financial Planning
Working with a Financial Planner
  • How a Financial Planner Can Help You …and How to Choose the Right One
    An introductory brochure to the financial planning process. Provides guidance on when to seek the advice of a financial planner and how to find one that’s right for you. Available in Spanish.
  • Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense
    Learn how to spot ten most common “red flags” to help you avoid incompetent and unethical financial advice when working with a financial advisor.
  • Financial Self-Defense Guide for Seniors
    Describes common situations in which older Americans are vulnerable to financial abuse – and provides warning signs of financial abuse; real-life situations in which seniors were taken advantage of; and advice for seniors and their families for guarding against such abuse.
Budgeting and Cash Flow
Credit and Debt
Saving and Investing
Retirement Planning
  • Financial Planning: Secure Your Retirement
    This free guide offers suggestions from financial planners on how to take a big picture, financial planning approach to your retirement plan.
  • Planning for the Stages of Retirement
    This brochure addresses various stages of retirement planning, from starting out in the work world to retirement, in order to help you achieve your dream of a comfortable, fulfilling, financially secure retirement.
Income Tax Planning
  • Tax Planning in a Changing World
    Learn how to be a proactive taxpayer. Whether you work with a tax professional or go it alone, you can become a more nimble taxpayer, avoid tax mistakes while employing tax strategies and learn tips that may help you better meet your life’s financial goals.
Estate Planning
Insurance Planning
Education Funding and Planning
En Español

Unless otherwise noted, the content, program names and related elements are owned collectively by the Financial Planning Days Consortium.

Copyright © 2014 Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All rights reserved.

You may have come across the term “financial planning” and wondered what it means. You may have decided to start your own financial plan but you’re not sure how. Or you may feel it’s time you went to a financial planner for some professional advice. No matter what category you’re in, attending a Financial Planning Day in your area can help you get the information and resources you need.

WHAT IS FINANCIAL PLANNING?

Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances. Life goals can include buying a home, saving for your child’s education or planning for retirement. The financial planning process involves the following steps:

  • Gathering relevant financial information
  • Setting life goals
  • Examining your current financial status
  • Coming up with a financial strategy or plan for how you can meet your goals
  • Implementing the financial plan
  • Monitoring the success of the financial plan, adjusting it if necessary

Using these steps, you can determine where you are now and what you may need in the future in order to reach your goals.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FINANCIAL PLANNING?

Financial planning provides direction and meaning to your financial decisions. It allows you to understand how each financial decision you make affects other areas of your finances. For example, buying a particular investment product might help you pay off your mortgage faster, or it might delay your retirement significantly.

By viewing each financial decision as part of a whole, you can consider its short and long-term effects on your life goals. You can also adapt more easily to life changes and feel more secure that your goals are on track.

CAN YOU DO YOUR OWN FINANCIAL PLANNING?

Some personal finance software packages, magazines or self-help books can help you do your own financial planning. However, you may decide to seek help from a professional financial planner if:

  • You need expertise you don’t possess in certain areas of your finances. For example, a planner can help you evaluate the level of risk in your investment portfolio or adjust your retirement plan due to changing family circumstances.
  • You want to get a professional opinion about the financial plan you developed for yourself.
  • You don’t feel you have the time to spare to do your own financial planning.
  • You have an immediate need or unexpected life event such as a birth, inheritance or major illness.
  • You feel that a professional adviser could help you improve on how you are currently managing your finances.
  • You know that you need to improve your current financial situation but don’t know where to start.

Financial Planning for you

You are the focus of the financial planning process. As such, the results you get from working with a financial planner are as much your responsibility as they are those of the planner. To achieve the best results from your financial planning engagement, you will need to be prepared to avoid some of the common mistakes by considering the following advice:

  • Set measurable financial goals – Set specific targets of what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve results. For example, instead of saying you want to be “comfortable” when you retire or that you want your children to attend “good” schools, you need to quantify what “comfortable” and “good” mean so that you’ll know when you’ve reached your goals.
  • Understand the effect of each financial decision – Each financial decision you make can affect several other areas of your life. For example, an investment decision may have tax consequences that are harmful to your estate plans. Or a decision about your child’s education may affect when and how you meet your retirement goals. Remember that all of your financial decisions are interrelated.
  • Re-evaluate your financial situation periodically – Financial planning is a dynamic process. Your financial goals may change over the years due to changes in your lifestyle or circumstances, such as an inheritance, marriage, birth, house purchase or change of job status. Revisit and revise your financial plan as time goes by to reflect these changes so that you stay on track with your long-term goals.
  • Start planning as soon as you can – Don’t delay your financial planning. People who save or invest small amounts of money early, and often, tend to do better than those who wait until later in life. Similarly, by developing good financial planning habits such as saving, budgeting, investing and regularly reviewing your finances early in life, you will be better prepared to meet life changes and handle emergencies.
  • Be realistic in your expectations – Financial planning is a common sense approach to managing your finances to reach your life goals. It cannot change your situation overnight; it is a lifelong process. Remember that events beyond your control such as inflation or changes in the stock market or interest rates will affect your financial planning results.
  • Realize that you are in charge – If you’re working with a financial planner, be sure you understand the financial planning process and what the planner should be doing. Provide the planner with all of the relevant information on your financial situation. Ask questions about the recommendations offered to you and play an active role in decision-making.

Unless otherwise noted, the content, program names and related elements are owned collectively by the Financial Planning Days Consortium.

Copyright © 2014 Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All rights reserved.

CFP® professionals volunteering at the Financial Planning Days are highly qualified to discuss a variety of financial topics, and those topics fall in the categories listed below, followed by a set of sample questions related to that topic.

GENERAL FINANCIAL PLANNING

Purchasing a Home – Should I buy or rent? What type of mortgage should I get?
Debt Management – How do I reduce my overall debt?
Building a College Fund – How do I finance my child’s college education?
Savings Goals – How much money should I have in my emergency fund?

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Job Loss and Job Change – How do I financially plan for a job loss?
Foreclosure Assistance – How can I avoid losing my property to a foreclosure?
Change in Marital Status – How do I financially plan for a divorce?

INVESTMENT PLANNING

Investment Strategies – How do I maximize gains and minimize taxes?
Asset Accumulation – How should I diversify my portfolio, given my risk tolerance?
Generating Investment Income – What investment vehicles should I consider to generate income?
Real Estate – Should I invest in real estate?

RETIREMENT PLANNING

Building a Retirement Fund – What retirement vehicles should I consider when building my nest egg?
401(k) and 403(b) Plans – How do I pick the investments for my 401(k) or 403(b) plan?
IRA Accounts – Should I choose a traditional or Roth IRA?
Social Security – How much will I receive in Social Security benefits when I retire?

INCOME TAX PLANNING

General Tax Return Filing – Should I file my taxes as single or married?
Tax Reduction Strategies – What tax deductions can I take?
Charitable Contributions – How do I maximize the tax advantages of my charitable contributions?
Small Business Taxation – How can I position my small business to minimize my taxes?

ESTATE PLANNING

Building an Inheritance – What estate planning vehicles should I consider when building an inheritance?
Wills and Trusts – Should I set up a will or a living trust?
Estate Tax Strategies – How do I reduce my estate taxes?
Incapacity Planning – How do I appoint a Power of Attorney?

INSURANCE PLANNING

Life Insurance Coverage – How much life insurance do I need?
Disability Insurance – Do I need additional disability insurance?
Long-term Care Planning – What kind of long-term care insurance should I consider?
Property and Casualty Insurance – How should I insure my home?

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Managing Health Insurance – Does my family have adequate health insurance?
Health Savings Accounts – Should I open a Health Savings Account (HSA)?
Incentive Stock Option Plans – How is my investment income taxed?

Unless otherwise noted, the content, program names and related elements are owned collectively by the Financial Planning Days Consortium.

Copyright © 2014 Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All rights reserved.