How to Allocate Your Money Effectively

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Ever since I founded Pacesetter Planning, I’ve worked with my clients on a wide range of financial topics.  I’ve gotten a variety of questions from clients and potential clients, and while everyone’s situation is a little different, generally they fall into the following categories:

  • How do I manage my finances with my husband/wife/fiance/significant other?
  • How much do I need to buy a house?
  • How much should I be saving for retirement?
  • How do I select investments?
  • Should I put extra money toward my student loans or should I direct that money elsewhere?

As you may have noticed, I’ve addressed a good number of these topics at a high level on this blog already (and will continue to do so).  But, you may have picked up on something else.

All of these Questions are Interconnected

It’s hard to make financial decisions in a vacuum.  Often times, the hard part isn’t answering these individual questions, but finding the right answer to them all at the same time.  It often isn’t practical to increase your saving for retirement and buy a house and pay extra on your student loans all at once.  These decisions need to be made together, and there’s usually not a clear right or wrong answer.

That, of course, is where I come in.  I help my clients develop plans to manage their finances, prioritize their goals, and help them allocate their money accordingly.  We set targets and track progress against these goals, updating as needed.

You Need a Framework to Make these Decisions

While everyone’s circumstances are a little bit different, I use a strict framework and process to help clients make these decisions.

And I’d like to share it with all of you.

On Tuesday, March 7 at 8 PM EST, I’ll be hosting a free webinar called “How to Organize Your Finances and Create A Roadmap Toward Financial Freedom”.

On this webinar, we’ll discuss:

  • How I recommend clients structure their accounts to keep track of their finances
  • How to implement a system to manage your income month to month to pay yourself first
  • How much money you’ll need to retire, and what it will take to get there
  • How to balance your everyday spending with your short and long term financial goals
We Face Greater Financial Challenges than our Parents and Grandparents.  Plan Accordingly.

Sometimes I get pushback when I say this, but I truly believe that millennials face much greater challenges than previous generations.  Think about it for a minute.

Most of our grandparents worked 40 years at the same job, retired and received a pension from their company to fund their retirement.  They have Social Security.  When they were our age and looking to buy a home, housing prices were about twice the average annual salary.

Many of our parents may have had multiple jobs over the course of their careers, but most of them only had one job at a time.  Some of them may still have a pension, but all will (barring some sort of catastrophe) receive Social Security.  And again, the average home price when they were in their twenties was around twice the average annual salary.

Now?  The average millennial changes jobs four times before turning 32. More than 1/3 of millennials have a side job.  The average price for a home has jumped to about 3.5x the average annual salary. Most of us have some type of student loans.

Pensions? Social Security?   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We have some big challenges ahead of us.  The good news is that these challenges can be beaten.  But, you need a method and a plan to get you there.  I’ve got it for you.

I Want to Teach You Everything I Know

I didn’t get into financial planning to only work with rich clients.  My goal is to help make all of my clients wealthy someday.  The more people I can help, the better.

The Pacesetter Planning Philosophy

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Most of the biggest decisions you will make about your finances happen in the first ten years of your career.

Think about it.

Getting a first job.  Deciding whether or not to go to grad school.  Saving up to buy a home.  Building your credit score.  Paying off student loan debt.  Deciding how much to put in your 401(k).  Maybe even marrying and having children.  These are major financial milestones that set the pace for the rest of your life.

There’s just one problem, though.

Nobody ever taught us about money.

Odds are, your high school teachers had you memorize elements on the periodic table, but never taught you the basics of how to invest your money.  You probably learned the difference between sine and cosine in trigonometry class, but weren’t taught how to negotiate a raise.

These items are critically important to our future.  And we are left largely to learn about them on our own.

So, where should you go?

Sure, you can go to one of the big financial companies for help. But for the most part, they specialize in working with our parents and grandparents, not with us.

Many big firms are so focused on retirement planning that it can be hard to get quality advice on building your credit score, saving for a home, how to treat your finances when you get married, and your student loan debt.

I have a friend who recently told me that they went to meet with their parents’ financial planner about their student loan debt, and ended up teaching the financial planner about what types of forgiveness programs their loans qualified for.

Seriously.  They went to a financial planner for advice, and ended up providing advice to the financial planner.

Other companies focus more on financial product or insurance sales rather than actually providing advice.  While the Department of Labor recently issued a ruling that is going to force many big firms to legally put their clients’ interests first when it comes to retirement accounts (a novel concept, I know!), the fact is that none of these firms will be obligated to be fiduciaries for non-retirement accounts.

That might seem confusing, but it’s important.  Many big firms won’t legally be required to put your interests above their own until next April. Even then, it will only be on a portion of your accounts with them.

Finally, many of the best financial planners have high account minimums.  I’ve seen firms that will only work with you if you have a million dollars to invest with them.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like financial planning might be more valuable to people who are trying to build long term wealth, rather than for people who already have it.

How is Pacesetter Planning Different?

Finding a financial planner who can give good advice on issues relevant to millennials is a huge problem for our generation.  And that’s exactly why I founded Pacesetter Planning.

I specialize in working with people in my generation to lay the foundation for a very successful financial life.  Financial planning shouldn’t just be about how much you need to save for retirement.  It should be able helping you live the life of your dreams now while also keeping an eye on the future.

We can accomplish this in many ways.  For some people, it might mean developing a strategy to pay off student loans. Click here, and we’ll email you my 28 page guide, “13 Things to Do Before You Make Your Next Student Loan Payment.  It may mean working on your budget to make sure you have room to take that trip to Europe you’ve always dreamed about.  Maybe it means working on your credit score so you can get the best interest rate on that house you want to buy.  Everyone has different goals.  All I know is that to me, financial planning consists of way more than “how much do I need to invest with you to make sure I can retire?”

I am a proud fee-only, fiduciary financial planner.  I don’t want to bore you too much with this, but it’s important.  So, let’s quickly break that down:

  • “Fee-only” means that they only way I get paid is through my clients. Many firms get paid by mutual fund or insurance companies to sell their products. This creates an incentive to use those funds, even if a different fund might be better for their clients.  I think this creates a conflict of interest, so I don’t do it.  This allows me to make the best recommendations I can for my clients, based solely on their needs and goals.
  • “Fiduciary” means that I am legally obligated to act in my client’s best interest at all times. This is so important to me that I put it in writing, on my website’s homepage. Check it out!

I want to help make you wealthy, not only work with wealthy people.  My clients’ needs and goals should determine the amount of work I do for them, not the amount of money they have. I want to help people make decisions that will have enormous impacts on their future, not chase the biggest accounts.

This is why Pacesetter Planning is different.  My goal with this firm is to provide top notch service on the financial issues that matter most to millennials regarding their finances.  I want to help you define and achieve your short and long term financial goals.  I’ll be sharing some insights on this blog every Thursday to help you do just that.

Dust off those running shoes and hop on the starting blocks.   We all have a long financial journey ahead of us between now and the time we retire, and a lot of great things to make happen in the meantime.  That’s why at Pacesetter Planning, we’re all about Financial Planning for the Long Run.