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Whether you earn $50,000 or $500,000 a year, there's at least one financial planner in your life already - you! If you’re like most people, you also rely on other professionals like bankers, accountants, attorneys, or stockbrokers to manage your finances, each working independently from the others.


In today's world, you need an integrated, coordinated Financial Plan to assist you in handling financial duties including cash flow, debt management, benefits analysis, retirement planning, investment and tax strategizing, estate work, and more.


Every household or business decision raises money issues related to achieving your financial goals. What should you contribute to your 401(k)? Can you afford another amazing vacation this year? Will you be able to have that cabin you've always dreamed about? Do you need to update your insurance? What's the best way to save for your children's college costs? How can you reduce taxes now and in the future?


Take a minute to answer the questions in this brief Financial Plan Checklist to determine your current plan's ability to assist you in reaching your financial goals.


Does Your Present Financial Plan Have The Nine Essential Characteristics of the Ideal Financial Plan?
1. A guaranteed systematic flow of money into the plan?
Yes
No
2.  A guaranteed return on the money?    
Yes
No
3.  The availability of the money whenever wanted or needed?
Yes
No
4.  Minimum taxes on the accumulation of the money?
Yes
No
5.  Minimum taxes on the distribution of the money?
Yes
No
6.  Ease of distribution of the money?
Yes
No
7.  Contingencies for any interruption to the plan due to:        
-----Death?
Yes
No
-----Disability?
Yes
No
-----Emergencies?
Yes
No
-----Unforeseen circumstances?
Yes
No
8.  Minimize the potential loss of the money?
Yes
No
9.  Total flexibility to change the plan?
Yes
No
A plan lacking one or more of these features would be less than ideal.
Fortunately, an Ideal Plan is achievable for most people.

First, we must ensure that we understand the following financial planning topics which are the most commonly overlooked and misunderstood by the public and many financial professionals.

 

Retirement Planning - All "qualified" retirement plans are based on the assumption that you will put money into your plan while you are in the highest tax bracket and retire in a lower tax bracket.
1)  Have you considered that you may not be in a lower tax bracket when you retire?
Yes
No
2)  Do you really want to retire in a lower tax bracket?
Yes
No
3)  Do you fully understand the multiple taxation of retirement plans?
Yes
No

4)  Do you have an exit strategy in place today for your future retirement?
Yes
No

Lawsuits - Frivolous Litigation and Multimillion-dollar awards are common today.
1)  Do you know which of your assets are protected from lawsuit?
Yes
No
2)  Do you know how to protect the assets you have from lawsuit?
Yes
No

Long Term Disability - Consider what would happen to your savings plans if you become permanently disabled.  (i.e. college fund plans, IRA/pension plans, personal investments, etc.)  Although you may have disability insurance, which is just enough to pay your bills, this and eventual inflation, could decimate your long-term financial life cycle.
1) Could you continue saving additional dollars toward your goals if disabled?
Yes
No
2)  Do you have a self-completing savings/retirement program?
Yes
No
3)  Do you know how to develop a self-completing program?
Yes
No

Cost Recovery -  We all have auto insurance, home owners/renters insurance, liability insurance, disability insurance, etc. Imagine if you could call your insurance company at retirement and say "I've had no claims so send me my premiums back, with interest"! We find that most Americans are not taught this method of "recapturing" costs.
1) Do you know what cost recovery is?
Yes
No
2)  Do you have any cost recovery methods in place today?
Yes
No
3)  Do you know how to implement cost recovery programs today?
Yes
No

Lost Opportunity Costs - Every tax dollar paid, every expense deducted from an investment, is a lost dollar representing a cost that could have been invested to create wealth for you.  When these costs are minimized or eliminated, they are recovered and put back into your economic life creating additional wealth.
1) Do you have any tax recovery methods in place today?
Yes
No
2)  Do you have any fee recovery methods in place today?
Yes
No
3)  Do you know the true costs of your current plan? 
Yes
No

Inflation - An increase in the cost of goods and services, most often measured by the Consumer Price Index.  We constantly hear about the national inflation rate and how we are all subject to the national rate.  However, we find that each person has their own individualized rates of inflation based on their lifestyle.
1) Do you fully understand your personal inflation rate?
Yes
No
2)  Does your present plan address the reduction of personal inflation? 
Yes
No
3)  Does your present plan address the recapture of personal inflation?
Yes
No

Creating Your Own Bank - Picture purchasing a car.  Then, rather than paying interest to the bank who makes a profit from you, you can pay the interest to yourself and pocket the profits!  Additionally, you can repay your own bank when and how you want!
1) Does your present plan address how to build your own bank?
Yes
No
2)  Do you fully understand how to utilize your assets as your own bank? 
Yes
No
3)  Do you know which assets can be utilized as your own bank? 
Yes
No
4)  Do you know which assets are best utilized as your own bank?
Yes
No

Estate Planning - Your estate is everything you own or control. Most people do not have a plan to control the distribution of their estate. Most believe that a will is all they need to settle their estate according to their wishes.
1) Do you full understand the difference between a will and a trust?
Yes
No
2) Do you fully understand the probate process and costs?
Yes
No
3)  Do you know how probate can be completely avoided?
Yes
No
4)  Do you know who must pay estate taxes?
Yes
No

Summary
Does your present financial plan succeed under all circumstances that may arise in life?
Yes
No
Are all the above issues coordinated in your plan and working for the overall betterment of your future?
Yes
No
Has anyone ever pointed these factors out to you before?
Yes
No
Given your current planning, are you getting the best results possible for the dollars being put into your model?
Yes
No
Would your plan be better if addressed all of the above outlined topics?
Yes
No

If you responded "Yes" to all of the questions above, you are likely already in the top five percent of wealthy Americans. If you responded "No" to any of the above questions, you are probably within the ninety-five percent of Americans whose Financial Plan should be reviewed to achieve their financial goals.


Not reviewing your Financial Plan is like building a house without a General Contractor or blueprints. This is the problem with most of today's traditional financial planning techniques. There is no clear cut "blueprint" to creating true financial success under all circumstances.


Conversely, creating a sound Financial Plan, using FDG as your financial General Contractor, provides you a blueprint to achieve your Financial Goals.


Great Lakes Insurance Consultants is an Agency of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY.


Securities products and advisory services offered through Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS), member FINRA, SIPC, OSJ, 8010 Excelsior Drive, Suite 200 Madison, WI 53717; 608-828-9800


PAS is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. Financial Design Group, Inc is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian.


2015 - 8000 Exp 07/17


Important Disclosures


This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, Financial Design Group, Inc. is not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact a financial professional for guidance and information specific to your individual situation.