Three Important Financial Planning Questions

Financial life planning helps people do more than just focus on typical financial goals such as deciding when to retire, where they plan on living, and how much the expected lifestyle will cost. The life planning process allows us to examine our values and life visions. Rather than simply focus on money and wealth it helps participants decide what is really important in their lives. Life goals, vision, and values must be identified and addressed during the creation of a meaningful financial plan.

In order to use the life planning process to discover the deeper values in their lives, three important questions are typically posed during the discovery stages:

1. Imagine you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is complete and richly yours.

2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have only 5-10 years to live. You won’t ever feel sick, but you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life and how will you do it? (Please note that this question does not assume unlimited funds.)

3. Finally, imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do? Do you have any regrets?

These questions were originally posed in a financial planning context by George Kinder, a pioneer in the growing field of financial life planning. When you follow the progression of these questions you see the difference between possibilities, priorities, and regrets. Another effective life planning question worthy of additional exploration is as follows:

What message does how you spend your time and money send to the people you care about the most?

Everyone should have a financial plan and life goals and values should be included in this plan. Financial life planning encourages smart financial decision making. Most of all, the holistic approach to managing wealth and money adds meaning to the entire process. Otherwise the pursuit of “financial freedom”, whatever that term may mean to each unique person, could end up being a fruitless endeavor.

Identify the meaning behind the money and life itself will begin to have more meaning as you approach important financial decisions.

For more information on George Kinder’s approach to financial life planning visit http://www.kinderinstitute.com.

About the author

Scott M. Spann, CFP®, EA

Scott Spann CFP®, EA is a Fee Only financial life planner and the founder of LifeSpan Financial Planning, LLC located in Charleston, South Carolina. Scott has been providing financial planning advice for a diverse group of clients since 2000. He is a Fee-Only financial life planner practitioner with a strong orientation in areas of tax planning and financial life planning. Scott also specializes in investment planning, retirement planning, college planning, tax planning and incorporating life planning into the financial planning process. Scott is committed to the Fee-Only model of financial planning.

Scott is originally from Greenville, South Carolina and has called the Lowcountry his home since graduating from the College of Charleston in 1997. He began his financial planning career in 2000 after completing graduate studies at The Citadel (MA, 1999) in the field of psychology. This academic background helped shape his vision to help his clients make the smartest decisions possible with their money in a client-centered relationship. Scott completed his advanced financial planning studies at the College for Financial Planning.

Scott is a member of the Nation Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). In addition to promoting Fee Only financial planning, Scott also devotes a significant amount of time promoting financial literacy and recently volunteered with Your Money Bus. He is a frequent guest on the Money Matters Radio Show on 94.3 WSC FM in Charleston, South Carolina where he provides financial planning advice to listeners. Scott also provides free financial counseling to military service members as part of the Department of Defense's Financial Readiness Program.

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