The very first step in getting funding in place for your start-up is determining exactly how much you're going to need. You'll first need to estimate your costs, and a safe assumption to make is that you should have at least six months' worth of funds on hand in order to cover them.
What is it?
A donor-advised fund allows donors to make public charity contributions while enabling the donors to take immediate tax deductions. One such charity is Fidelity Charitable. Donors who contribute can make recommendations regarding how funds are disbursed to qualified, non-profit, organizations such as the United Way. There are numerous benefits to a donor-advised fund, including the opportunity to stay anonymous when donating. Those who donate to the fund can take a maximum tax deduction after they have made an irrevocable contribution.
Responsibility of the Charity
The charity is responsible for performing due diligence to verify that every organization recommended to receive a grant is an IRS-qualified public charitable organization. The charity is also responsible for ensuring that other restrictions specified by the sponsoring organization’s policies with a donor-advised fund program are met.
Time to Face the Music
Once your financial advisor has completed the data gathering and analysis portion of the financial planning process, it's time to review the plan. Make no mistake, many people don't even begin things because they know the results will not look good. Is ignorance bliss here? It can't be; you can always improve your situation but you without a financial plan, you are aiming at nothing. And when you aim at nothing, you usually hit it!
Sitting down with your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and taking a look at your entire financial situation can seem daunting, but you don't have to cover all of the bases in one sitting. The best approach is to explore those areas in greatest need of attention, and go after the low hanging fruit first. In my experience, some of the biggest areas of risk for clients are the following:
- Goals are not clearly understood and defined
- Lack of consistent strategy across investment and retirement accounts
- High-fee investment products that are not aligned to financial goals
- Lack of adequate life insurance
Once you know where the problems lie, it's time to look at fixing those issues one-by-one.
Financial Plans Don't Just Make Themselves
Once you have selected a financial advisor with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, the hard work is done, right? Not exactly. Choosing a partner is one of the biggest steps in the process, but it takes one more big one to get the job done -- commitment. Yes, the dreaded word that no one seems to want to say anymore. We can't commit to something nowadays because a better opportunity could be just around the corner!
This sounds facetious, and it is. However, for your financial plan to be any good, you have to commit to the process and follow through. This is true for just about anything, but when it comes to getting all of the benefits you deserve from your efforts, you have to be willing to prioritize the mundane tasks that lie ahead. After 16 years in the business, I've seen even the most well-organized and well-intentioned individuals fail to commit to the financial planning process and then it never happens. They know they need it, but can never quite find the time to do their part. The unfortunate result is that they languish around, never quite sure if they will be able to retire on time, send their kids to a good college, or afford that dream home in the mountains.
The bottom line here is, know your role in the process may be boring, frustrating, and the last thing you want to do on a Saturday afternoon, but you have to dedicate yourself to doing your part with the confidence that the juice will be worth the squeeze.
Why Create a Financial Plan in the First Place?
Imagine, if you would for a moment, being on the cusp of building your dream home. You've pictured what the house will look like, the setting, furnishings, your family enjoying the space and many happy memories yet to be had. Then, you roll down to Home Depot, pick up some concrete, lumber, nails, etc., and away you go. No blueprints or planning, you just start building. Sounds pretty ridiculous to me!
Unless you are a real-life Bob Villa, I don't suppose the home would turn out very well. Probably not for Bob, either. You would be fool-hearty to begin such a complex endeavor without first meeting with a trained architect to develop an in-depth blueprint from which a seasoned builder could create your home. You have one chance to get it right, and you can't afford to screw it up! (more)
The dilemma: Greater Need and Less Human Capital
There's an interesting dilemma brewing in the personal financial advisory space. The demographics indicate that, as baby Boomers retire, they will need quality advice on how to live the lifestyle they desire in retirement without running out of money to do so. However, even with this strong and growing need, the industry serving these clients finds itself at a crossroad; the barriers to entry into the business are continuing to get higher as competition increases and fees drop. Additionally, the average age of a financial advisor continues to climb, and by some measures is approaching 60 years old. This does not bode well for the future of the industry.
WealthManagement.com recently reported on research about how most people view their long-term financial well-being. The short answer is, they don't; they think short-term. In an ideal world, investors simply keep investing and everything falls into place. Unfortunately, successful planning and investing isn't that easy. It's difficult and fraught with risks of severe failure. Enter the true professional financial advisor. If worth their salt, they help clients to focus on more than just the here-and-now; they bring the whole picture together which fosters success.
"According to a study by the deVere Group, more people without financial advisors are thinking about their long-term finances than they were a few years ago. The bad news is that 71 percent of the 648 people surveyed still only are looking one year out, regardless of age, income or nationality. According to Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of deVere Group, it’s never been more important to plan for the long-term, and procrastination can be costly for investors. “Governments are being forced to cut age-related benefits, meaning that in the future most people will not be able to rely on governmental support to the same extent they have done in the past, so we have to be more financially self-reliant in retirement,” Green said. “If you’re serious about reaching your big, life-enhancing financial objectives, you must think and plan with a perspective that’s longer than 12 months.” www.wealthmanagement.com