Congratulations! You've booked a meeting with an advisor – that's a major first step in taking control of your financial future. You're now about to move forward on a journey that, with some sound advice and a little bit of discipline, should move you closer to realizing your financial goals.
Planning for the future is exciting, but because nothing ever stays the same, you need to think big when you sit down with an advisor. That means considering what direction you want your life to go in over the long term, and preparing for any surprises that may pop up along the way (both welcome and not-so-welcome).
Just ask Sandra Schmidt, an advisor with Sun Life in Vancouver. She says, "Your finances change as your life changes, be it marriage, a new job or a baby. So you need to revisit your goals on a regular basis."
To help you get started, here are five major milestones an advisor can help you prepare for:
1. Buying your first home
Getting the keys to your first condo or house may be your dream, but unless you carefully prepare for the additional financial commitment involved, you could end up overwhelmed. An advisor can help you set realistic goals not only regarding how much you can afford to spend on a home, but also around all of the other costs involved, from heating and hydro to basic renovations and repairs.
2. Merging your finances
When you decide to settle down with the love of your life, you won't just be merging your households. You need to think about how best to merge your finances as well. Whether it's planning for the costs of a wedding or just figuring out how your different financial goals and savings fit together, an advisor can help you create a long-term plan that works for both of you.
3. Starting a family
Kids change everything, including your financial plan. As you start your family, you need to consider the added costs of raising kids, from daycare to sports equipment to university. An advisor can help you plan for those costs and provide you with information on the advantages of savings vehicles such as registered education savings plans (RESPs).
Not all milestones are planned for or welcome. The loss of a job, illness or a death in the family are all major life events that can set you back financially. An advisor can help you prepare to handle some of life's major challenges by recommending appropriate insurance products and/or helping you build an emergency fund. That way you will have a safety net in place if and when you need it.
It's important to review your retirement savings plan with an advisor regularly to make sure your savings and investments stay on track to support your retirement goals. Sure, you probably receive annual registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and/or pension plan statements, but it shouldn't end there. You need to revisit your plan on a regular basis to make sure it continues to support your age, life circumstances and fluctuations in the financial markets.