Financial Planning Workshop: Session 1

Financial planning is the process of organizing your financial attributes (assets, liabilities, earnings, expenses, taxes, savings, investments) to achieve the financial results you want in life (nice house, college savings, early retirement, vacation home).  The process takes a lot of thought and changes over time. 

This is the first of five sessions in our Financial Planning Workshop. Over the next 4 weeks, we will discuss a few topics that should be considered when planning for your future. This workshop will not develop a comprehensive financial plan for you, but instead is intended to give you some ideas and tips to help in your planning.

Five Items Every Family MUST HAVE!

Before measuring the drapes for your vacation home or designing market timing strategies for your retirement plan, make sure you have the following items in place:

Emergency Fund

You need at least six to nine months of living expenses set aside in an account that you can access quickly.  This can be a savings account, a brokerage money market account, or a hole in your backyard.  You need this money set aside before you invest in retirement or buy a house.

Life Insurance

In the event of your untimely death, you need life insurance to provide for your spouse and children’s financial future.  How much insurance do you need?  Probably a lot more than you think. has a good calculator that takes education costs, debt, and your spouse's earnings into account.  

What type of life insurance should you buy?  In almost all cases you should buy level premium term insurance.

* The data in the chart above was derived from


Disability Insurance

You are more likely to become disabled during your working career than to die.  Good disability coverage is expensive but necessary.  Try to get a policy that will pay if you are not able to continue working in your actual occupation.  For example, if you are a surgeon, the policy should pay if you are no longer able to operate even though you could still work as a primary care physician.

Last Will and Testament

A Will allows you to control the disposition of your assets at death and determines who would take care of your children in the event both spouses die.  Without a Will your wishes might not be fulfilled.  Obtaining a Will is as easy as seeing an attorney or going to

A Financial Record

Every family accumulates bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and a digital presence with numerous passwords.  If you died, would your spouse know where to find account statements, policy numbers and passwords?  Even worse, if your spouse died, would you have a clue where to find this crucial information?  You should have a summary of all your relevant account and password information that is kept in a safe, easy to find location.