Your Financial Planning Checklist

Looking for a resource to make sure your finances are in good shape? This financial planning and wealth management checklist is a good place to start.

Debt Checklist

  • Pay off your credit cards monthly
  • Establish a Home Equity Line of Credit for emergencies and short-term cash needs
  • Make certain you’re paying off your high interest rate debt
  • Don’t take on too much debt compared to your assets (consider capping debt at 25% – 35% of your net worth)
  • Only borrow for investments that target strong returns that are competitive with what you can earn in stocks
  • For more, see Using Debt Smartly to Build Wealth and The “New” Rules of Debt

Spending Checklist

  • Track spending to fix any problem areas
  • Verify you’re using all your monthly subscriptions
  • For more on how to best do it and lessons learned, see Tracking My Spending

Reducing Taxes

  • Avoid realizing short-term capital gains
  • Have a low portfolio turnover rate in your taxable accounts (sub 35%)
  • Maximize retirement plan contributions if you’re an employee
  • Have a retirement plan to maximize contributions if you’re a business owner
  • Contribute the maximum to IRA accounts
  • Contribute the maximum to a Health Savings Account if that is an option at work and the right fit for your health
  • Gifting to charity with something other than cash, such as with appreciated securities or an IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution
  • For more, see Smarter Tax Planning

Cash & Investments Checklist

  • Establish a rainy day fund covering at least 3-6 months of expenses
  • Divest from investments that are not earning a competitive long-term return
  • Maintain the right asset allocation and ensure you’re investing your excess cash
    • Short-term money (needed in next three years) is invested in cash
    • Long-term money (needed at least 10-15 years from now) is invested in stocks
    • Mid-term money (needed between 3 and 15 years) is in a mix based of stocks and bonds based on when you’re going to need the funds and how much per year
  • Avoid speculative investments that could go to zero
  • Invest only in illiquid investments that target higher returns
  • Maintain a diversified portfolio
  • Use a 529 plan to save for college
  • For more, please read Stock Investing Mistakes

Asset Protection Planning

Finding the Right Advisor for more help with these financial planning/wealth management checklist items

  • Offer financial planning and investment management for a fee of 1% or less
  • Fiduciary
  • Independent
  • Clean compliance record (check here)
  • Financial planning work is done by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the investments are managed by a Chartered Financial Analyst® (or teams of both)
  • They build a financial plan for you before deciding on an investment plan
  • For more, see Finding a Good Financial Advisor

Take DIY financial check-up to the next level

Buy the book that inspired the checklist

Beyond the Basics source for wealth management checklist and financial check-up tool