Written By: Brad Cast, RFC®
Setting clear and measurable financial goals is essential to achieving a successful retirement plan. Monitoring these short-, intermediate- and long-term goals alongside your financial and tax advisors is just as important as initially setting them. While a large percentage of Americans have little to no retirement savings, those who do possess considerable savings and assets generally aren’t checking in on them often enough, which can lead to challenges and setbacks down the road. We work with our clients to evaluate goals on an annual basis, and mid-year presents an important checkpoint to assess your goals and strategy across all areas of your financial life. Here are three considerations to facilitate the process:
1. Consult with all members of your professional team
A comprehensive goal-review process requires a time commitment and several outside resources to be most successful. The time spent on conversations with your partners is pivotal to making informed decisions, along with collecting as much real-time data and analysis as possible from everyone involved in your financial life. For most, this includes CPAs, personal bankers, estate lawyers, and any relevant insurance agents. A spouse or partner should also be included in goal setting and review, in order to make sure your goals are still mutually aligned with the lifestyle you currently lead and the one you want in the future.
Once you have input from your larger professional team, your financial advisor can help present a holistic look at all aspects of your financial plan — including health and long-term-care insurance, charitable giving, and estate planning — and consult with the experts in those areas as needed. When equipped with the right information from the other professionals involved, the advisor is able to provide customized guardrails for your financial journey.
Notably, a mid-year financial check-up allows for a look at your tax strategy and offers an opportunity for your financial advisor and CPA to ensure any investment changes, losses or gains are accounting for tax changes.
2. Set measurable goals for your lifestyle (and track them the right way)
One of the biggest mistakes when setting goals for both the short and long term is not making them highly personal to you and your lifestyle. It is important to think ahead to your retirement, considering what that would look like for you and how you would measure success. For example, your goal might be to downsize your current home and move closer to family. Planning for that scenario, even if it is years in the future, can influence the strategy for larger goals related to investing or compensation plans. Goals can also be adapted if your mid-year check-up indicates that you aren’t on course to meet them. If goals have been met, then you can set new ones or create “stretch goals” that might be harder to achieve but are aspirational.
Once goals are set, how you track them becomes an important consideration. Because goal setting is so personal, it can depend on your personal preferences. Do you like to write a goal down, check it off a list, and reset it often? Or do you like to have longer-term goals that you inch closer to on a consistent basis? These are aspects that your financial advisor can help you navigate during the planning process to make sure your plan works for you.
3. Assess your goals frequently
While mid-year is an appropriate time to assess your goals alongside your advisor, you should be checking in on your progress quarterly, monthly or even weekly to ensure you are on a steady path to success. These check-ins are less formal and don’t need to involve your professional team. However, your financial advisor is your partner in the planning process and is always available to discuss whether you are on track or need to reevaluate goals. Staying calm when looking ahead and partnering with trusted advisors will form the best foundation to build on as you navigate goal setting and assessment.
A holistic approach to planning makes financial check-ins at any time of the year more productive and provides you with the most value for your time. At Merit Financial Advisors, we provide clients with holistic financial planning that focuses on their unique considerations and what matters most. Contact our team to learn how our financial advisors can work with you.
All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Merit Financial Group, LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. Merit Financial Group, LLC and Merit Financial Advisors are separate entities from LPL Financial.