How much time do you spend annually planning your financial future?
Minted released a study that said that the average wedding takes an unbelievable 528 hours to plan – that’s 22 full days or 66 eight-hour workdays.
In the study that surveyed 2,000 people that planned a wedding in the past year, Minted found that:
- The average engaged person spends 12 hours a week planning their wedding and
- The average engaged person will plan a wedding over an astonishing 44 weeks.
A Challenge from a Financial Professional
Whether you are planning a wedding or not, ask yourself these questions: how much time do you spend planning your financial future? And how much time do you spend reviewing to see whether your financial plan is still on track? Do you spend even 9 hours a year to see if your financial plan is still performing as it should?
Here are some tasks to consider, along with an estimate of how much time these tasks might take. Each of these should not take very long – provided you really set aside uninterrupted time.
Review Your Financial Plan (1 hour)
Your financial plan should not be overly complicated, but it is predicated on certain assumptions. Things like your age, risk tolerance, family dynamics, income, and goals.
Over the past year, has anything changed? Do you expect anything to change in the coming year? Someone headed to college? Looking to downsize your home? Is your job in jeopardy? Health worries?
Take inventory of where things are today and where they might be headed and write down your answers.
Review Your Performance (2 hours)
Reviewing your annual performance is easy – just look at your account statements. But besides being aware of your performance, make sure you understand your performance relative to benchmarks, otherwise it may be difficult to gauge how you’re doing.
Keep it simple too – compare your total performance to well-known benchmarks – maybe the S&P 500 (US large-cap stocks), Russell 2000 (US small-cap stocks), MSCI EAFE (international large-cap stocks), Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index (bonds), and 10-year Treasuries. If you want to add NASDAQ and DJIA, feel free.
Don’t expect to outperform all of these indices, but you do need to understand why you underperformed certain indices and outperformed others.
Did you underperform because your allocation to small caps was high? Did your emerging market exposure drag you down? Did your fixed-income allocation provide stability and allow you to outperform?
Review Your Fees (2 hours)
Do you know how much you’re paying for your financial plan? Is it a flat fee or based on your total assets? Hourly fee? What about the mutual funds or ETFs you invest in? Transaction costs? Sales charges?
Add up all your fees and then ask “are the fees worth it?”
Review Macro-Economic Data (2 hours)
Understanding where the economy is and where it might be headed is the fun part. Remember, macroeconomics is about the broad economy, whereas microeconomics focuses on individuals and businesses.
Examples of macroeconomic factors to consider include:
- Interest rates
- Employment numbers
- Trade surplus/deficit
- Consumer spending
- Fiscal policy
- Political instability
Not only should you be aware of current macroeconomic factors, but you need to be aware of how they have changed in the past year and how they might change in the coming year.
Meet with a Financial Professional (2 hours)
When you’ve reviewed your financial plan, reviewed your performance, reviewed your fees and reviewed the current state of the global economy, then schedule time to meet with a financial professional so that you can discuss your findings and verify your conclusions.
The beginning of every year is often a good time to spend reviewing your financial plan, but you might also consider performing the above tasks every quarter too – that’s a total of just over 2 hours every 3 months that you’re allocating to your financial future.
Finally, think about this: if you spend 9 hours a year on these suggested tasks, it will take you about 59 years until you have reached the same number of hours it takes the average person to plan a wedding.
Weddings are important but so is your financial future.
Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.
S&P 500 Index: The Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 Index tracks the performance of 500 widely held, large-capitalization US stocks.
The Russell 2000 Index is an unmanaged index generally representative of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 index, which represents approximately 10% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000 Index.
MSCI EAFE Index: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia, Far East (MSCI EAFE) Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the total return of common stocks in 21 developed-market countries within Europe, Australia and the Far East.
The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is an index of the U.S. investment-grade fixed-rate bond market, including both government and corporate bonds.
The NASDAQ-100 is composed of the 100 largest domestic and international non-financial securities listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market. The Index reflects companies across major industry groups including computer hardware and software, telecommunications, retail/wholesale trade and biotechnology, but does not contain securities of financial companies.
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA): A price-weighted average of 30 blue-chip stocks that are generally the leaders in their industry.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
This article was prepared by RSW Publishing.
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