Smart About Money: Financial Planning


The biggest part of successful money management is having a plan.

That doesn’t mean you need a formal financial plan. In fact, the vast majority of Americans never do any formal financial planning. And, for most, things work out just fine.

Some people do have extremely detailed plans. Many times, that’s just right for their situation. Other times, it’s complete and expensive overkill. But bear in mind that a plan can be complete overkill by any objective standard and still be perfect for the individuals involved.

Because when it comes to money and finances, there is no one-and-only right way. No “one size fits all.” Never has been, never will be.

What I want to do is give you some practical suggestions for thinking about planning so you’ll have a basis for considering what might be right for you.

Your money is like your health. No one will ever care about it as much as you do. But it’s as hard to anticipate what your life will be like 30, 40, 50 or 60 years from now as it is to know what your health will be, let alone what the world will be like then.

To a large extent, with your finances as with your health, your best bet is probably to develop good habits today and stick with them, trusting that they’ll serve you well in the years to come.

Taking a personal interest in managing your money pays huge dividends. Gaining confidence in the trustworthiness of your gut instincts (or learning if that’s not one of your strengths). Asking questions. Remembering that money is not necessarily wealth. That money may not buy happiness but it can save you from a lot of misery. And that it’s never worth going into debt to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses aren’t paying attention and they sure won’t be paying your bills.

Most people handle that kind of “planning” on their own. And it’s basically free, taking only a reasonable amount of determination, persistence and self-interest.

When you face a big choice, a crossroads or a curveball — and there are plenty of all three in life — that’s when it may be well worth your while to consult with a financial advisor.

Ideally, part of your due diligence along the way will be getting to know a couple of advisors, professionals whose judgment you will be comfortable trusting when you have to make significant decisions (possibly in a short amount of time).

Good advisors are easy to recognize because they tend to have many things in common, including: 1) Taking the time to get to understand you and your situation; 2) Being willing to consult with you without selling you anything except their advice and ideas; and 3) Absolutely never objecting if you want to get a second opinion and, in fact, even encouraging you to get one.

Overall, as much as possible, plan to be open to being adaptable. Look for new ideas. Be willing to jettison things that are holding you back. Even the best plans often have to change dramatically. And that’s okay.

Nick Maffeo is the senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. Have a question? Email to

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avatar Posted by on Jun 12 2013. Filed under Featured Content, Opinion, Smart About Money. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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