If you want to reach a financial goal, having a financial strategy is essential to keeping on track. No matter what your age or where you are in your career, developing strategies to keep yourself emotionally, physically, and financially healthy will help you achieve your goals.
And while nurses are familiar with the emotional and physical requirements of staying healthy, a financial strategy often drops down the to-do list. Sometimes that’s due to lack of time or interest and other times it’s because nurses aren’t sure how to start making a financial plan for their lives.
Harrison Hinz, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) with First Pacific Financial and a Spark Financial Advisor, says nurses can start with thinking about their goals in life and understanding that they may need to change patterns. Do you want to buy a home, travel, pay off school loans or pursue an advanced degree, or reduce your credit card debt? What about getting a will or planning for unexpected life events? “Think about what is most important to you,” he says. “Saving money is not fun for most people. Goals help give meaning to the sacrifices made to save the money now.”
It also helps to look at a financial strategy as something you’re doing for the long haul. “Write out the goals that you have in buckets of short-term, mid-term, and long-term categories,” says Hinz. You don’t need to reach all your goals in the next year or two. A financial strategy helps guide you so you can get the most from your money. “Financial success doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “By listing out the goals, you can track progress that you are making through time.”
A successful financial plan includes much more than budgeting your money. “Most people have the thought that financial strategy is all about saving and investing,” says Hinz. “While those are important, other priorities should be discussing tax savings with your tax preparer, establishing basic estate documents (will, power of attorney, and medical directives), and insuring you have appropriate insurance coverages (property, life, and disability).”
And because each person has different circumstances, expenses, and income streams, doing what family members or friends do can be almost as detrimental as doing nothing. There are lots of paths and options you can take, so getting good advice is important to your financial success. “One of the easiest ways would be finding a financial advisor who can help you establish a plan and stay on top of it,” says Hinz. “If you prefer to do things on your own, use your resources. Whether that’s your employer benefits, co-workers, or professional networks, it’s a great start. In the end, everyone’s situation is unique and outside information isn’t always the answer for you.”
If you don’t want to start on your own, a professional can help you get started, and you don’t have to be wealthy to reap the benefits. The important thing is to find someone who will meet your needs, your budget, and with whom you can talk freely. “A financial advisor will get to know you, your goals, your current situation, and then develop a plan to help you move forward,” says Hinz. “How they help and what exactly they help with is important to know, so ask them! You should look for someone who is more focused on you than on your account balances. Find someone you feel comfortable have open and tough conversations with. Finding an advisor with a CFP® designation let’s you know they’ve been through a qualification process and are help to a higher level of standards to act in your best interests.”
Your financial strategy will help you weather good and bad times. “Financial success doesn’t happen overnight,” says Hinz. “Ten years is a long time, but it will happen. It allows you to take those big steps and break them down to more reachable check points. If you don’t have a plan for money earned, it is likely to be spent on something other than your goals.”
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