Good financial planning and peace of mind go hand in hand. It is easier to focus on future plans if you have a snapshot of your present reality.
Imagine that your household is a business. As chief executive officer, are you in charge of the income and expenses that flow through your personal life? (And if you share that role with a spouse, then bring your “business partner” into the planning meeting.)
Any business person knows that the first step toward control is information. Do you actually know the amount to which you are in debt? Do you know the interest rates you are paying?
Spend an afternoon with your credit card companies.
- Set up online access with your credit card companies, so that you have easy access to such information as interest rates (usually available on statement copies), credit limits, last payment information, recent transactions, and available credit. Make a folder in your favorites for “bills” so that the information is easy to access.
- Set up a notebook with passwords and phone numbers for all of the credit card companies, and a log for what was said each time you call.
- When you call the credit card company, have the information in front of you so that you can have a meaningful discussion. Ask them to lower your interest rate. They may refuse to do so immediately, so ask what their guidelines are for a lower interest rate. Usually, it requires a higher-than-minimum payment for several months in a row. Write down their requirements, and ask any relevant questions. At this level, the customer service rep has limited powers to help, but take advantage of the information that they can give you. Write down the name of the person that you talk with, and use their name in the conversation. Thank them for their trouble and wish them a good day at the end of the call, but don’t spend unnecessary time. They are noting your account. Make sure it is a positive entry.
- Make a similar effort with all of your creditors.
Spend an afternoon with your bank records and cash receipts for expenditures for the previous month.
- Take your time.
- Get everything.
- A big total for miscellaneous isn’t helpful.
- It is easier to work with detail.
Make a list of your significant possessions.
Finally, make a note of the income that is relevant to this “personal business” of yours.
- Your own income
- A spouse or partner’s income
- Roommate’s income
- Child’s income
The strategy is next, and that is where we come in.
A professional financial advisor is not going to impose a regimen upon you. There are several different ways to increase cash flow, and stringent measures can be temporary.
Financial situations don’t necessarily require major lifestyle changes, although a short period of “cutting back” can knock out a small bill that has a relatively big payment, freeing up that cash for more effective duty elsewhere, and giving you (and your family) a sense of control.
- We will identify the seriousness of any financial situation
- We will suggest both long-term and short-term solutions
- We will warn of undesirable situations that you will want to avoid. (What seems like a good idea can be a disaster at tax time.)
- We will help you to come up with a financial plan that is tailor-made for your situation, your temperament, your family structure, and your income.
- Personal financial planning is only one of the services that we offer our business customers.