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A Life Planning To Do List

The best way to get the most out of life is to do something now. It is important to use your time and money to enjoy today but allocate enough of both to provide for tomorrow. And if you need help, I am here to provide you with Financial Planning for a Balanced Lifestyle. Review the following list, and take steps now to ensure you meet your life’s goals and provide protection for your loved ones.

  1. Make or update your Will and Power of Attorney; consider a Health Care Directive. Discuss the benefits and risks of joint ownership with your spouse (or others), but only after obtaining professional advice on legal, tax and creditor issues.
  2. Make a list of your important documents, information, assets (including original costs) and liabilities, and keep it with your Will.
  3. Pre-plan your funeral, whether you pre-pay for it or not, but consider pre-paying also.
  4. Review your insurance coverage – life, health, disability, home, liability, travel, critical illness, long-term care, etc.
    • Is it adequate?
    • Are the features appropriate for your personal situation?
    • Are you getting the best price?
    • Do you need it and for how long?
  5. Make a list of what you want to do before you are physically unable, and then plan when and how.
  6. Review your savings and investment plans: 
    • At any time:
      • Do you have a liquid emergency fund of 3 – 6 months of living expenses?
      • Are your cash needs for the next 7 – 10 years invested in safe securities?
      • Are your long-term needs invested in a portfolio that you understand, is well-diversified between safety and risk, and for which you agree with the risks?
    • Pre-retirement
      • Are you saving 5 – 10% of your take-home pay on top of any employer savings or pension plans, or 10-15% (minimum) if you have no employer plans?  This includes RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and all savings.
      • Are you increasing the safety of your investments as you get closer to retirement?
      • Are you saving for your children’s education?
      • Are you planning your liabilities to be debt–free by retirement?
    • Retirement
      • Are your day-to-day spending needs for the next 7 – 10 years in short-term, safe (i.e. fixed income) securities that do not fluctuate in value from day to day?
      • Are you evaluating your long-term investment performance at least annually to ensure your future needs will be met when the time arrives?
      • Review your lifestyle expenses looking for savings.
      • Comparison shop on all expenses: review your telephone/Internet/television plans; obtain quotes for insurance premiums; review bank account plans to reduce fees; shop for daily needs using lists to avoid impulse buying; buy daily needs in advance when “on sale”; repair or buy used instead of new; and, look at each expense and consider other options.
      • Consider downsizing on housing and automobiles.
      • Buy what you need, not extras because you want them, and not just to keep up with the styles of your friends and neighbours.
      • Educate children on financial management, and control their spending while you can.
  7. If you own a business, think about business succession planning at least five years before you retire. Who will take over, and what needs to be put in place early for a smooth transition (or to maximize your selling price)?
  8. Think about how you can help others, such as:
    • Donate to charity, now or in your Will. Feel good about helping others and reap significant tax savings as a bonus.
    • Make deposits to a Registered Education Savings Plan or Registered Disability Savings Plan for your children, grandchildren or even friends. Benefit from government grants and tax savings.
    • Volunteer for a cause that you like. Enjoy the personal enrichment from doing so.
  9. Expand your horizons with education and take an interest in your own financial situation:
    • Visit a professional tax planner and fee only financial planner every few years to ensure you are doing things right. To get the most out of meetings and seminars, and to reduce fees, write down your questions and objectives before attending.
    • Take continuing education – associations, community courses, self-study on line, etc.
    • Arrange workshops and seminars for your non-profit groups or your company, e.g.,:
      • Free financial literacy courses offered by Chartered Professionals Canada.
      • Seminars sponsored by a business owner for employees on financial planning topics such as basic investing, tax planning and other topics.
      • Free seminars for non-profit organizations by various speakers.

Note 1  More information is available on many of these items noted above on my web site at www.corkumfinancial.ca.  I suggest you find your topics by typing them in the Search Box.

Note 2  I offer seminars on financial planning topics and will be pleased to discuss options with you.

Blair Corkum, CPA, CA, R.F.P., CFP, CFDS, CLU, CHS holds his Chartered Professional Accountant, Chartered Accountant, Registered Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist as well as several other financial planning related designations. Blair offers hourly based fee-only personal financial planning, holds no investment or insurance licenses, and receives no commissions or referral fees. This publication should not be construed as legal or investment advice. It is neither a definitive analysis of the law nor a substitute for professional advice which you should obtain before acting on information in this article. Information may change as a result of legislation or regulations issued after this article was written.©Blair Corkum