Organizing Your Financial Life

By: David Smyth, October 1, 2018

We talk a lot at Family Financial Partners about organizing your financial life. That's at the core of what we do on a daily basis for our client families. We help people understand where their money is, where it's going, and why. Organizing can be an overwhelming task for a lot of folks, and we find that it's often helpful to have an outside party sit down, take an objective view, and make recommendations on how to move forward. 

 

Now you may be wondering how, exactly, we go about organizing someone's financial life. Let me tell you just a few of the ways we do this. 
 
First, we communicate. Yes, communication really is key to almost anything in life. Ask any of our clients about their first meeting with us, and they'll tell you it involved a lot of talking and a lot of questions. We sit down with all potential clients and go over everything from how much they spent on groceries or clothes last month, to what kind of home they envision living in during retirement, to what shaped their values and approach to money. While this meeting can take a couple of hours, the more we know about your money and your values, the better we can organize your finances in a way that's tailored to you. 
 
Then, we create a customized planning checklist. For each client who comes on board with us, we create a to-do list, organized by priority, to help them easily work through and check off to-dos as they navigate the planning process. This checklist includes emergency fund goals, tips such as double checking accurate reporting of income to Social Security, monthly retirement contributions, insurance recommendations and much more, all individually created for you and your particular situation. 
 
Next, we help them keep everything in one safe, easy-to-access place. We use eMoney, a secure software tool that houses all financial information, from accounts to documents to insurance information. This helps our clients see at a glance where they are and what effects today's decision could have on future goals. In short, by staying organized and aggregating all financial information in one place, we help clients stay informed and make smart decisions. 
 
We also hold our clients accountable, which is key to staying organized. Everyone knows how easy it is to set a goal or New Year's resolution, only to fall off the proverbial wagon a month or two later. It's our job to help you stick to your goals and stay accountable to them. Monthly cash flow budgeting today helps you stay on track with your retirement goals, even if you're still years from retirement. We'll help you see how these pieces fit together to form a big picture and help you stay on the path to get there. We find that many clients get derailed simply because they stop paying attention. We'll help keep you in the know.
 
We also know we can't do it all. Financial planning is not about managing an investment portfolio and leaving clients to their own devices for every other aspect of their money. We're always here to answer questions and adjust plans according to life changes or new goals. But we'll also help you find a CPA who fits your personality, an estate attorney who specializes in your area of concern, or any other professional you may need when your questions fall outside our areas of expertise. We maintain relationships with many professionals we feel confident in recommending to our clients. 
 
And, the professionals we refer our clients to aren't always in the financial industry per se. We've recently heard from a few folks that their homes were causing stress due to a lack of organization and order. So, we spoke with Cristy Sharp of Lady Cat Organizing recently to get her take on helping her clients get organized. 
 
Just as our team starts with finding out where everything is in our clients' financial lives, Cristy has her clients sort everything into categories before diving into the actual organization. "We only organize what we're going to keep," she says, so whether it's Goodwill, your Aunt June, or simply putting something in the trash, establishing those categories of stuff to get rid of is the first step. 
 
As with so many things in life, that feeling of overwhelm is often what Cristy sees holding people back. "A lot of times, they have the skill, but not the motivation. They're too overwhelmed," she says. She recommends focusing on one room at a time before redistributing household items to where they'll be the most functional. "We help create flow," she explains. 
 
Of course just as each financial planning client is unique, each of Cristy's clients has unique needs as well. Some struggle with sentimental items, some have overstuffed closets and don't even know what they own, while others hang on to things they think they might need someday down the road. "There are all different levels of organization," she says. "Sometimes showing them is all it takes."
 
We'd love to help you (and your friends and family) get organized when it comes to your money and your life. Give us (or Cristy) a call today. 

Family Financial Partners | Growing Wealth, For Generations ™