Financial Planning Basics in 9 Steps

Everybody wants to have a solid financial plan, but over 40% of Americans don’t have one.

Unless you develop a formal strategy – like a written plan – it can be tough to accomplish a financial goal of any type.

And let’s face it, if you do accomplish your goal it’s more likely luck has more to do with it than your financial savviness.

Let’s go over some financial planning basics, that will help you to establish a financial plan that will have concrete steps you will actually be able to accomplish.

financial planning basics
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27 Good Financial Habits You Need For Ultimate Financial Success

They didn’t fit the typical millionaire profile.

They lived in a modest 1,800 square foot home.  They both drove Buick’s that were both completely paid off.

He retired from a manufacturing plant and she a grade school as an English teacher.

Despite their simple ways, they were both millionaires and were one of the first clients I landed as a financial advisor.

So what was the secret sauce?  Did he buy Apple stock a few decades ago?  Was it some crazy pension buy out?  A salty family inheritance?

How about none of the above.

When I asked the husband what their secret was he shared the story about how every time he received his paycheck he would ALWAYS take a portion and purchase savings bonds (Remember: this was long before 401k plans).

That simple routine, which became a good flippin’ amazing financial habit, was the catalyst for them becoming millionaires.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to become debt free, increase your savings, or become millionaires; all off them require you have good financial habits.

good financial habits for success

Everybody wants to be financially stable, but unless you have plan to get you there, it’s not going to happen.

Here are 27 that will enable you to set (and reach) your financial goals.
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GF¢ 048: 8 Warning Signs You Need to Fire Your Financial Advisor


You’ve been working with a financial advisor for some time now, but now you’re starting to have doubts that you hired the right person for the job.

Hopefully, you did a background check on them first, right?

Is that financial planner more interested in helping you achieve your financial dream or just trying to sell you something?

fire financial advisor

Too often people have handed their money over to a financial advisor without researching whether they were good or not.

Even worse is that when they suspect that they are not getting the service they deserve, they don’t do anything about it.

If you have a suspect financial advisor, here are warning signs that you need to tell them,”You’re Fired,” and move on.
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The 7 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Become a Millionaire

What do you picture when you hear about someone who’s a millionaire?

Let me take a stab at it . . . .

Perhaps a well-groomed old man lounging in his bathrobe, sipping on a tall glass of some complicated beverage, overlooking acres of achievement from the portico of his mansion?

Or maybe you see a fine-dressed young lady, confidently walking the through a Manhattan park on her way to the corporate meeting where she will soon land a business deal worth fifty years of your income.


It’s a title you may have never dreamed you could ever give yourself.

What if you could? What if?

Become a miilionaire

I want you to envision yourself as a millionaire. Imagine all the good you could accomplish in the world. Dream of the possibility. Believe you can become one. It actually could be simpler than you think.
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15 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy an Annuity – (And 5 Real Life Scenarios When You Should)

Many advisors think they’re doing their clients big favors by telling them that they’ll never put them in an annuity. And with all the negative press that annuities get, it’s not too surprising.

However, I think annuities are fantastic – in the right situation.

There are at least 15 reasons why some people shouldn’t buy an annuity. If you’ve done much research on the subject, you’re probably already aware of a few of them.

But you need to know that annuities serve certain very specific purposes, and if you happen to have a need for one of those purposes, then an annuity can be a game-changer.

Here are 15 reasons why you might not want to explore the annuity side of things– and five reasons why you should.

Carefully consider all of these reasons, and see your financial professional before making a final decision on an annuity.


Here are some reasons why an annuity might not work great for your situation:
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GF¢ 039: Reader Question: What is The Best Thing to Do With an Old 403(b)?


Well, whether you need PROFESSIONAL professional help is up for debate, but when it comes to your finances, don’t rely on Google.

You need someone who knows what they’re doing.

Confident happy business woman with coworkers in the background


Consider this example:

I am 45 years old with 3 young children.   My biggest concern is that in about 10-12 years, they will be going to college.  I have a good job and currently make $75,000 per year.

I don’t have college savings plans set up for them at the moment.  I’m considering opening a Roth IRA and maxing it out every year so they use it for college.

I also have an old 403b just sitting there doing nothing. I’m maxing out my 401k at my current job, which also offers an 8% match.  Would you please advise what I should do for my children and for my retirement?  Also, do you think I should convert my old 403b into a Roth IRA?

Ah yes.

These are the type of questions that a Certified Financial Planner drools over.
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14 Reasons to Not Listen to Suze Orman

Oh Suze….

You either love her, hate her or really hate her.

In truth, a lot of her advice is really good stuff. But some of it is teetering on the edge, and some advice is just plain bad.

IMG - 14 Reasons Why You Should Not Listen to Suze Orman

Even though I questioned some of her advice I still respected what she’s been able to do in educating the masses.

That all quickly was thrown out after she launched her pre-paid debit card program that grew immediate criticism. Instead of focusing on the benefits the card offers (none that I know of), she took the much nobler route of calling people names that questioned the cards merits as shown below.

In the above exchange, “@ptmoney” is my buddy Phil Taylor is a CPA, personal finance blogger at and founder of the Financial Blogger Conference. So yeah, she called my “battle buddy” an idiot and that ain’t cool.
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GF¢ 029: 7 Financial Advisors I Would Like to Punch in the Face


People who know me know I’m not a very violent guy.

I’ve never been in a fist fight in my entire life, I very seldom ever yell (except when the St. Louis Cardinals would blow a four run lead in the bottom of the ninth), and I cover my face with a pillow when there’s a confrontation on the TV (go ahead and laugh…my wife does).

In short, my personality type is one that is constantly smiling, and can be easily labeled as “Joe Cool”.

But, like any human being, there are some occurrences that get me really fired up.

One of the biggest things that gets me fired up? 

Financial advisors that lie, steal, and cheat.

7 Advisors I'd like to punch in the face
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8 Questions to Ask a Prospective Financial Adviser

IMG - 8 Questions to ask your financial advisor

The following is an excerpt from the book The Five Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken.

There are many different types of financial planners and advisers—and only some of the titles that various financial advisers can use are regulated. Meeting someone who calls himself a financial planner could mean you’ve shaken hands with an insurance agent, a stockbroker, an investment adviser, or a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

If that’s not confusing enough, different types of advisers are paid in different ways, which can seriously affect your bottom line. Even those with a good understanding of the financial can be excused for feeling a little overwhelmed.
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30 Financial Rules That Every 30 Year-Old Should Know (or risk going broke)

The BIG 3-0. 

The age that you’re really an adult.  In your 20’s, you could still swing being a bit immature.

Once 30 comes it’s game over.   And now that I’m 35….

Dang! Am I really 35?   <sigh>

Halfway through my 30’s and I’ve been rocking it the best way I can.

As a result, I’ve had some time to reflect on the things I’ve done right — and things I’ve done wrong  <<— trust me… there’s been plenty of wrong.

Living as a 30-something brings a lot of new and interesting financial challenges.

financial rules for 30s

You are probably making more money now than you ever have before, but you also have more challenges.

A couple of things we’ve dealt with is having more kids, building a home, changing careers, starting new businesses, and dealing with loss.

And this decade is one in which the thought of retirement and other financial issues becomes a little more “real.”

Whether you are about to turn 30, or whether you are heading into your mid-30s, now is a good time to review the following 30 financial rules for your 30s:
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The Newlywed’s Guide to Budgeting

Do you ever feel like you can only learn things the hard way?

That you were told what to expect in certain areas of life but couldn’t fully understand until experiencing it firsthand? I know I do. My most recent first hand lesson was just a few months ago – planning my wedding.

Newlyweds Guide to Budgeting

I’ve heard that weddings are hard but I never could have truly grasped the amount of turmoil they can cause in your life without going through it myself. Between the money, the time, and the inevitable disagreements on howitshouldlookwhereitshouldbehowmanypeopleshouldbeinvited, it can feel nearly impossible to get through.

And by the time my husband (still feels weird to say that word!) and I got to the other side, we were convinced that nothing we go through together could ever be that hard again. We were lean, mean, conflict-busting machines.

…and then it came time to sit down and work on our finances together. We had planned to do this prior to the wedding, but with both of us working at startups (read: long hours) and planning a wedding from across the country (SF to NY), we just didn’t have the bandwidth to talk about our finances. So we saved the couples finance talk until after the wedding. Not exactly the best strategy…
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