Planning For Now While Looking Ahead
When you have a family, there are certain things that start to come into play that really never did before. Sure, I was taught to think about finances (retirement, 401K, etc…), but it never really felt that important to me. It always seemed like something I would get to once I was older. Then, out of the blue, here we are.
I got married, bought a house, and became a dog dad. That was enough to handle at the time, but it was still reactive and all about the here and now. The future still seemed so distant. I mean, I was about 25… and it felt like I had all the time in the world.
Then…it happened. I was about 28 when we had our first child. The world turned on its head and time seemed to stand still and speed up all at the same time. What?! I have another human to worry about? Diapers, bottles, new clothes, school, then college!
My mind began to race and I felt that feeling in my gut. You know the one. The one that tells you that you need to get on your horse and do something serious, especially since you’ve been messing around all this time. I needed to get serious about my finances and all the planning that goes along with that.
After much thought and discussion, it seemed like it was time to contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, or CFP® pro.
What is a CFP® Professional?
There are many people that say they are financial planners, but that does not mean that they are a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. From budgeting, to planning for retirement, to saving for education, to managing your taxes; the term “finances” doesn’t simply have a singular meaning for most Americans — and “financial planning” means much more than just investing. It can really make your head spin, but finance is just too important to ignore.
A CFP® professional is trained to manage it all, because they have completed extensive training and are held to rigorous ethical standards. They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make financial planning recommendations that are in your best interest. They are really well versed and trained in all the areas that you really need to worry about and focus on; for now and for the long term.
What It Takes to be a CFP® Professional
The reason that not every banker or financial planner is a CFP® professional is because it takes a ton of time, training and expertise to become one. It’s not something that’s easily attained. This is why CFP® professionals are the best people to turn to when it’s time to get serious about money.
Take a look at what it takes to become a CFP® professional:
First of all, it takes a lot of time. A CFP® professional is required to have 4,000 or more hours of financial planning experience. This hands-on experience guarantees that CFP® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge, so you know you can count on them.
Second, they must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. This is a rigorous finance test, because it’s a serious field of expertise. We are talking about our lives here.
Next, they are required to put clients’ interests above their own, and to provide their financial planning services as a “fiduciary” — acting in the best interest of their clients. Not all financial planning designations require these ethical standards. This is what you want, and what you need.
Finally, a CFP® professional has a breadth of knowledge in finance that’s second to none. They are trained in 72 separate financial topics ranging from investment planning to estate planning. This is really important. Life is so broad, diverse, and all-encompassing. It’s nice to know there are people out there to help us manage them.
How It Can Help
Working with a CFP® professional can help in so many ways. It really opens your eyes to what it takes to plan for your financial future. Over the course of my adult life, I have learned to really focus on putting away as much as I can into my 401k and matching those funds via my corporation. I also have a Roth IRA and a life insurance based annuity type of investment. A mix of investments is key.
I’ve also opened a 529 account to save, with tax benefits like the 401k, for my three kids’ college fund. Even the little things. Like using the Mint app to get a better overall picture of my spending habits so I can easily see where I can be making better choices has made a huge difference in my family’s life.
Learning to really take your finances seriously in order to put your family in the best possible position–now and for the future, really is the key to having a happier and more enjoyable life. Taking some of the worry and mystery out of these things makes such a huge difference. It’s been an amazing experience to get all of my ducks in a row with the help of a CFP® professional. There’s always more that can be done, but I have some time and the motivation to get it done. It’s also nice to have the help, guidance, and experience to really get through the finish line.
Find A CFP® Pro Near You
Whatever your age, family size, or bank account balance it’s always the right time to speak with a CFP® professional. You never know what you might learn – and it’s never too late or too early to start building a plan for your future. Visit LetsMakeaPlan.org and find a CFP® professional near you.
This is a sponsored post, created in partnership with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All opinions are my own.