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No Excuses: Get Your Annual Financial Checkup

July 24, 2015
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By Jim Ludwick, CFP

Learn more about Jim on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

Earlier this month, my doctor wanted to know why I hadn’t come in for my annual checkup. I was visiting her on an urgent pain matter when she asked. I admitted than I was embarrassed that my exercise program had fallen apart after an injury and that I had only started up again nine months later — just a few days before my visit.

My bad indicators were up, as she knew from my trip to the emergency room earlier in the day.

I share this kind of TMI because I see the same situation with my clients. They come in with an urgent matter, and I ask the same kind of question, and I frequently get the same response: They were embarrassed to have fallen behind in saving or debt management.

Like my doctor talking to me, I point out that financial planners are here to help clients get back on track with habits that help them reach their financial goals.

Just as a good doctor will do more during a checkup than simply take your temperature and put you on the scale, an annual checkup with a financial planner should go beyond looking at investment statements and calculating asset allocations or changes in portfolios. Among issues to discuss:

  • Life changes — such as a birth, adoption, marriage, divorce or death — that require estate-planning documents to be updated or completely revised.
  • Health changes that could mean new advice on when to take Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits
  • Changes in employment that will affect benefits. Retirement plan options may have changed.
  • Insurance needs that may have changed. The planner can offer suggestions on life, health, disability, auto, home and umbrella policies.
  • Any new events requiring financial advice. Identity theft and cybersecurity, for example, are areas that financial advisors haven’t previously had to cover.

My point in all this is just a friendly reminder. Financial planners are human just like our clients. We “fall off the wagon,” too, not only on leading a healthier lifestyle, but also sometimes in meeting our saving and spending goals.

My doctor’s goal is to help me experience a longer, healthier life. My goal as a financial planner is to help clients reach financial goals and reinforce good habits to achieve that kind of success. My own financial planner, Anna Sergunina, reminds me about that frequently.

Image via iStock.