STEP ONE: Putting Critical Financial Planning Tools in Place
You can't begin to make good, solid financial decisions without understanding where you are at with your finances. You need the FACTS to make informed decisions. Gathering your financial data and analyzing it can be daunting, which in turn makes it a task that most of us tend to avoid doing altogether. There is no getting around this step though, it is a critical tool for understanding your financial health. Giving yourself visibilty to all of your financial details and having an honest conversation with yourself and your financial advisor, about where you can improve your relationship with your money is the backbone to financial happiness.
So what are your options for tools to organize and analyze your finances?
A. Do Things the Old Fashioned Way: Organize, track and analyze your finances with traditional spreadsheets. This is a very time consuming, manual process and tough to keep up with, thus most individuals end up dropping the ball even though they have the best intentions.
B. Take Advantage of New Technology: New, savvy web based financial planning tools that are available these days are very impressive. Depending on which tool you use it, many will allow you and your financial advisor to automatically link all of your accounts into one personal financial dashboard. There are many tools to choose from and you should choose carefully before diving in. All tools will require your time to set-up and there will be a modest learning curve to navigate as well. The investment is very much worth it though, because once you are set-up you will be "good to go", can sit back and begin to take in the financial data and insights that are generated.
eMoney is the web based "Real-time Financial Planning Dashboard" that Financial Moxie Advisors recommend and use with clients. The eMoney dashboard gives users an at-a-glance aggregated view of their overall financial status, saving and spending habits. All in a "real time" format.
STEP TWO: Reviewing Your Real-time Financial Data
Once your financial dashboard has had a chance to gather up data, across all of your linked accounts, it can then begin to display aggregrated information to assist you and your financial advisor with devising plans to improve your financial forecast. You should give the tool 30 - 60 days to collect initial data. It is then important to confirm the integrity of your financial data within the tool. Although you may not like what you see, you (and your financial advisor) need to be sure you are confident the tool is aggregating your data accurately.
Now that you have made it through setting up your financial planning dashboard and you have confirmed your data integrity, its time to pay attention to your real-time spending and saving habits! This is where you can really ramp up and be proactive about indentifying areas where you should make improvements. It is important to "FOCUS" on one area of improvement at a time and lean on your financial advisor for guidance for the best long term success.
STEP THREE: Graduate to Advanced Financial Planning
Once you are an experienced user of your financial dashboard you will begin to realize the dramatic and positive effects it has had on your relationship with your money. You will most likely feel more empowered, confident and in control! Feelings that you did not have before you embarked on your quest to be financially proactive. It is at this point you will graduate into more advanced long term financial planning with the guidance of your financial advisor. You will have realized the satisfaction of discovering very powerful tool for achieving financial happiness!
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