You have worked with a financial planner to create a plan to help you achieve your long-term financial goals. But since then you may have experienced recent changes. We all have a lot of changes that occur in our lives, but there are certain life events that affect us financially as well. To be successful in achieving your financial goals, you need to update your financial plan when you have a major life change. (For related reading, see: 3 Smart Ways to Update Your Investment Plan.)
Here are six major life stages that call for an update to your financial strategy:
Now that you are sharing your lives and financial responsibilities, you need to update your financial plan. For various reasons, we sometimes have the tendency to not want to talk with our significant other about financial matters. It is important that you both have an understanding of the family finances and be able to set goals as a couple. Either of you should be able to step in and be knowledgeable about everything from the monthly budget to insurance and investments. (For related reading, see: 5 Emotional Mistakes That Hurt Your Financial Plans.)
Divorce can be a difficult time not only emotionally but also when it comes to finances. Whether you are trying to maintain your financial situation or are getting back on your feet, there are some key areas of your financial plan that need updating:
- Know where you stand financially
- Create a budget
- Review credit reports
- Your emergency fund
- Your estate plan.
Adding children to your family is exciting. Whether you're expecting, thinking about adoption or building a blended family, you need to plan for the added expenses. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the typical middle-income, married parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education. (For related reading, see: The Cost of Raising a Child in America.)
You may now need to revise your budget to accommodate expenses such as childcare or to allow one parent to stay home. You also need to review your insurance policies and estate plan to make sure your family is protected. You may also want to reallocate resources to start saving for college.
4. Career or Job Change
Whether you have experienced the loss of a job or are considering accepting a new job offer, it is a good time to talk with your financial planner about your key financial concerns. Losing a job can be stressful but doesn’t have to be financially devastating. Whether you were unemployed due to termination, merger or layoff, the key financial concerns may include loss of income, medical insurance and other benefits.
You may be currently employed but are considering a career or job change. You need to consider how this new job will affect your current retirement plan and whether or not the benefits package is sufficient to meet your family’s needs. (For related reading, see: Job Hunting: Higher Pay vs. Better Benefits.)
Retirement can be one of the most rewarding stages of your life. Unfortunately, if you don't plan properly you can run the risk of not living the retirement you envisioned. This is a good time to meet with a financial planner to update the answers to key questions such as: "How much have I saved?" and "How long will my money last?"
6. Death of a Spouse
Dealing with the death of a spouse can be overwhelming both emotionally and financially. You will need to compile a list of tasks and issues to be addressed. Your financial planner along with your estate planning attorney can help you through this process.
A financial plan is not a static document. It should be reviewed and updated on an annual basis and/or as your goals change. It is also important that you revisit and update your plan when you have major life changes. If you have had a major life change recently, now is a good time to schedule a meeting with your Certified Financial Planner™ professional. (For more from this author, see: How Women Can Get Their Finances in Order.)