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The Financial Planning Process

Today we're diving into the finance industry and discussing the different stages of the financial planning process! These components are usually offered by different segments of the industry.


As we’ve mentioned before in our previous blogs on financial planning, their main function is to assess where you currently stand in terms of your finances, and where you want to be in the future. Financial planning can be useful when you’re making decisions in all aspects of your life. The financial planning process involves a series of steps that outline how best to manage and use your money to achieve your financial goals (see diagram below).


Income

Once you start having a meaningful income that you depend on, you’ll want to protect it with insurance. It was explained to us once like this. Imagine you had a purse that spits out $3,000 every month, you would want to ensure that purse against breaking down. It’s similar to yourself. You want to ensure your earnings in case something happens to you. Insurance becomes even more important when other people depend on your income.


We don’t sell insurance at Untangle Money. This is because the commissions on selling insurance are very high. We want to ensure that we are able to give you unbiased advice. This means not selling you products where we may have a conflict of interest in making sure you have the best coverage for your needs. We’ve been impressed with PolicyMe, and if you’re a freelancer - check out Bounc3.


Budget

We actually have an entire blog post that discusses financial planning and budgeting. But to recap, the point of having a budget is to make sure you're spending your money intentionally by understanding your take-home income, expenses, and how much you need to be setting aside for retirement. Here at Untangle Money, we like budgets because they set your expectations, and we know that people who have a budget (even a high-level one like we use) are more likely to meet their financial goals.


A budget can help you understand what you can afford and align that to your individual priorities! Keeping a tab on these metrics will give you more control over where your money is going, and help you visualize the flow of your income and expenses. Once you have a budget established, you can align it with your financial goals (next step) and utilize your budget to make sure you can achieve them.


Who can help you with budgeting?

There are a ton of resources and services out there today that offer budgets for you to use. We use a high-level 6-bucket budget at Untangle Money. There are many that are more detailed.


Caution: using Mint and YNAB voids your fraud protection because Canadian banks don’t have Open Banking. While we don’t recommend them, many people like Mint: Budget Tracker and Planner, You Need A Budget (YNAB).

Also, banks are creating their own budget trackers; for instance, RBC has NOMI Budgets (RBC mobile app). We don’t recommend a bank provided service because in order for it to work well, you need to have all your accounts at one institution. This prevents you from shopping around or using challenger banks like EQ Bank, which are offering better savings rates and cheaper banking products.


Goal Planning

Goal planning helps guide a financial plan. These goals will look different for everyone based on your lifestyle and future financial needs. Your goals could include getting out of debt, building an emergency fund (we prefer to call it a Life Happens fund because it’s not just for emergencies), buying a car or a house, starting a family, traveling, saving for future tuition, etc...


Sisterly Advice: When you’re establishing your financial goals, it’s important that you set realistic expectations based on your ability to meet those goals within a specified timeframe.

Who can help you with goal planning?

Here at Untangle Money, our financial plans consist of a series of phases that are mapped to you as an individual. We'll take your financial goals, including debt, retirement and other things like buying a house or a car, and organize them in a way that will help you make the most out of your now money, and your future money.


You can also use other resources. We like Money After Graduation, and fee-for-service financial planners.


Retirement Planning

Retirement planning is an essential step in the financial planning process, especially for women. Because women earn less money over the course of their lives, as you can see in the chart below (from Ellevest), it is much harder for a woman to start retirement planning at 40, than for a man to do the same. Women lack the extra $10,000 - $20,000 per year that a man has (which is $150,000 - $300,000) to put towards retirement investments.



Here at Untangle Money, we believe it’s never too early to start retirement planning. The earlier you contribute to your retirement, the more likely you'll be to meet your retirement goals. It’s especially important for women to focus on because most women will earn less money during their lifetimes.


In fact, the American Progress Organization found that, “a woman working full time, year-round earned $10,194 less than her male counterpart, on average, in 2018. If this wage gap were to remain unchanged, she would earn about $407,760 less than a man over the course of a 40-year career.”


And sadly, we know that this money ALSO could have been invested along the way, so the loss to women’s wealth is much larger. This is a big part of the reason that women have 32 cents in net worth for every $1.00 a man has.


The best way to mitigate this lack of income for women, is to start investing earlier (today); investing more of what we save (women tend to be good at saving); and investing more of that money into stocks rather than bonds. The way we hear investment advice leads many to think that women are more risk-averse than men, but if you look at the numbers, there is more of a difference in risk-tolerance within genders than between genders).


Who can help you with retirement planning?

There are so many free resources and blogs out there. Where should I start? We like the Ontario Security Commission’s Get Smarter About Money. They have great calculators and explainers using real language.


Untangle Money offers this at affordable prices.


And as we mentioned before, fee-for-service financial planners offer this as well. Many insurance salespeople will offer financial plans if you buy insurance from them. This is how they cover the cost of creating the financial plan which can be quite a bit of work. The trouble with them is that if you get one that seems unscrupulous, you may be sold more insurance than you need, or be sold an expensive insurance plan.


Investing To Meet Plan

Not only can investing your money help you stay ahead of inflation (see our blog post about this here), if you invest your money and get higher than 2% in a compound annual return, then you are getting your money to work for you. Your invested money is earning money and this can help you reach your financial goals you made earlier in the process, like retirement, and help with many other big purchases you may make in your lifetime.


Where can you get help with investing?

There are many services out there that cater to your investing needs. There is Wealth Management, Investment Groups, Advisors, and Robo-advisors if you prefer an online service approach. Our preference is Robo-advisors because they help you spread your eggs across many baskets at a low price.


Taxes

Taxes can be complicated and there is an entire industry set up around helping you optimize the amount of taxes that you pay. For most people, this involves making sure you take advantage of all the tax deductions available to you and using accounts like TFSAs and RRSPs to help you with retirement and goal savings. As you approach retirement you may want to consult a tax consultant to ensure you have the best tax strategy for you. You will start to withdraw large sums of money every year, and you want to make sure you do it in the best manner.


Estate Planning

Estate planning in the financial planning process is important for everyone, regardless of how much money you have or plan to have. It’s especially important for women, as we’re making most of the financial decisions for ourselves and our families. We have a blog post on estate planning that was written by Estate Box. Essentially, estate planning starts with preparing the legal documents that are needed to protect and care for the people you care about when you die.


Who can help me with estate planning?

When it comes to estate planning, you can work with lawyers or financial planners to manage your estate plans. As we mentioned above, there are also companies like Estate Box that look at your estate needs and Willful that can help you write your will.


What's Next?

You can follow us over on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to see more content about fighting for economic equality and specifically, empowering women financially. You can also check out our other blog posts here!


Financial independence is a huge part of being a strong, independent person, and it is our mission to help women, and anyone who doesn't feel safe or welcome in financial spaces typically dominated by cis men, set themselves up for financial success.


At Untangle Money we help women understand their (real!) financial picture, and obtain financial guidance from people that actually, really, get it. We would love to help you, too! Join the community of hundreds of other women looking to strengthen their financial well-being. You can check out our products and plans here or get in touch for a free consultation!





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