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By Dan Machnik, CFP®, Principal
Willis & Machnik Financial Services

(April 24, 2020 3:43 PM) Sometimes it can take a significant event, a crisis even, to make us all step back and analyze aspects of our lives that perhaps we have been neglecting.  For many of us, the focus shifts toward our families, our health, and our financial well-being. 

We find ourselves immersed in a period of significant economic uncertainty.  Many are concerned about whether their businesses or jobs will survive the sudden halt to our consumption of goods and services.  That said, we may never have a more appropriate opportunity to aim the lens at our financial condition and take some steps to improve it, so we will come out of this poised to take full advantage of the economy’s all but certain comeback. 

Throughout the years we have worked with business owners and individuals to help them identify and work toward their financial goals, here are just a few things you may want to examine to determine whether they are appropriate for your situation and implement some key takeaways that may help you both now and in the future.

  1. Identify your financial goals and start planning.

How long have you been in the workforce?  That’s an easy one…but ask yourself how long would you like to stay in the workforce?  Retirement is an inevitability that one day all of us must face.  It is a crucial strategy to at least begin to think about a year in which you will no longer be working.  Once you have something on paper (in pencil), you can begin to determine what your cash flow will need to look like, and as a result, how you will need to save and spend now to get there. 

2. Identify any potential financial pitfalls

Are there things you need to plan for along the way?  Let me save you the suspense…YES!  A child will marry; a parent may need long-term care; you might sell and purchase a home or business; you or your spouse may change careers.  Getting ahead of your financial uncertainties is key to keep your plan progress on track.

3. Don’t ignore or procrastinate

This is something we are all guilty of.  How often have you begun that home improvement project, only to see the mountain ahead of you and put it aside? When this happens, life will present you with different priorities and you will seek the path of least resistance. Often this common behavior will help you ignore or put off your financial plan when it would be most crucial to prioritize it.  In times like we are facing today, stay disciplined and stay focused.  You will need that clarity when rebuilding your retirement account or emergency cash fund once you get back to work.

4.  Surround yourself with the best possible people

My advice to everyone reading this article is to seek out the help of a trusted financial professional.  Different financial professionals have different specialties.  The idea would be, work with a financial professional that specializes in your most crucial needs.  For example, a business owner should work with business owners.  Only that financial professional would likely have the requisite experience to guide you appropriately. 

Make sure a big part of that relationship involves periodic financial planning meetings to help you maintain focus and have trust in the process (this will help with #3).  Also, some advisors may have conflicts of interest.  Ask how they charge and what that charge will be.  The best advisors are typically product “agnostic”, meaning they can and will recommend the best solutions for your specific situation and are not limited to one particular investment style or type.

As Bob Dylan wrote: “The times, they are a-changin’”.  This quote so accurately reflects our world today, and I venture to suggest, our world for a very long time to come.  It is crucial that we all examine and prioritize all aspects of our lives.  Don’t ignore your financial well-being in your analysis.  Identify your goals, your pitfalls, prioritize, don’t procrastinate and hire the best talent.  If you follow even one of these suggestions, you will find yourself on more solid financial footing in the future.

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