Personalized Financial Planning Is Within Your Reach

May 29, 2024
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Several years ago, ING ran an ad campaign showing people going about their day, each carrying a number. The number was the unique amount each person needed to save for retirement. The point of the ads was to ask the viewer, “Do you know your number?” 

This is what most people think of as financial planning — figuring out “their number.” And it’s a reasonable first step, better than most people ever achieve. Unfortunately, there are two problems with this approach to financial planning. 

First, when your financial planning focuses on rolling everything into one big number, the process tends to degenerate into a tedious focus on current and future cash flows. How much are you spending now? How much will you need then? Ugh. 

Second, those who use this approach often have a hard time separating the core issue of “Will I have enough money to survive in retirement?” from the more upbeat analysis of “Will I have enough to thrive in retirement?” It’s difficult to distinguish between not being able to fund all your goals versus not even having enough to meet your basic needs. 

If you’ve tried this type of financial planning in the past and found it to be a painful process, don’t despair: The planning approach discussed in this month’s cover article is different. Before delving into any numbers, you will begin by focusing on what you want your retirement to look like. That’s a lot more fun! You can enter many specific goals or just a few, categorizing them into three tiers: Needs, Wants, and Wishes. Right out of the gate, you’re encouraged to dream a little, to define retirement on your terms and pull your gaze away from “figuring out how much money you’ll need.”

Later on, this goals-based approach to planning will help you easily see the impact of various trade-offs, sacrificing a little of this in order to get more of that. That’s real life, right? 

Ultimately, financial planning is about identifying the decisions that need to be made while it’s still early enough to make them. Whether your version of retirement is having enough to regularly travel to see the grandkids or volunteering at a ministry that has captured your heart (or both!), a good plan can help you figure out what changes you can make now to boost your chances of having your desired lifestyle later. It can help you both define your goals and learn what you must do to get on track to achieve them. 

Due to the costs, many people believe that personalized financial planning is out of reach. However, thanks to our relationship with SMI Advisory Services, that is not the case. (SMIAS is a separate business from the SMI newsletter, although the two businesses are affiliated.) SMI Advisory has an agreement with Envestnet MoneyGuide, which has been ranked the number one financial-planning software by market share the past 17 consecutive years.

Normally, this software costs financial planners $1,400 per year to use, and individuals have had access to it only by working with an advisor. As SMI Advisory Services used MoneyGuide with its hundreds of individual clients, they recognized the potential value of making this amazing tool available to the SMI newsletter’s do-it-yourself audience.

The deal is simple: SMI premium members are able to access this award-winning software for a single, one-time payment of $50, and having that access continues for as long as their premium membership remains current. This incredibly low price constitutes a wonderful planning opportunity for SMI premium members. (SMI Advisory doesn’t make any profit from this arrangement. The $50 charge covers their cost of adding each new user.)

As a MoneyGuide user, you are able to create a plan and save it for future refinements. You can return to it year after year to update it, make adjustments, and see the impact of market events on your probability of success — all at no additional cost after the single up-front charge.

If you’re wondering what the catch is, there isn’t one. SMI Advisory has the same goal as the SMI newsletter — to help as many people as possible be the best stewards of what God has entrusted to them. 

Taking stock of your current financial situation is the first step toward putting a plan in place to reach your financial goals. MoneyGuide can help you make personalized retirement planning a priority.

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of this tremendous opportunity for SMI premium members, read this month’s cover article and get started today!

Written by

Mark Biller

Mark Biller

Mark Biller is Sound Mind Investing's Executive Editor. His writings on a broad range of financial topics have been featured in a variety of national print and electronic media, and he has appeared as a financial commentator for various national and local radio programs. Mark also serves as Senior Portfolio Manager to SMI Advisory Service’s Private Client managed-account program and the SMI Funds.

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