Financial Wellness: Planning Your Financial Future

Planning well for taxes and a solid financial future can feel overwhelming. Where should you start? What are the best strategies to ensure you are set up well? Several Nebraska-based financial professionals weigh in on what tactics are most effective to safeguard your money and establish practices that help you reach your financial goals.

Set Goals

Mike Egermier, Certified Financial Planner at Egermier Wealth Management Group, noted that before meeting with a financial adviser, it is important to know your financial situation as much as possible.

“Getting your financial life organized prior to meeting with a professional is a good first step,” he said. “By this, I mean making a list of assets, debt and future goals and obligations. Maintaining financial wellness is an ongoing process and something that will need to be reexamined with regular ‘checkups.’ In order to achieve and maintain financial wellness, you must have a roadmap in place, so you know what you are trying to accomplish.”

Brian Klintworth, CPA and tax director for HBE, noted that thinking about your goals is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to planning for your taxes or financial future.

“You don’t need to have all the right answers, but you have to take the time to formulate your goals and work with your team to achieve those goals.”

Find a Financial Team You Trust

Talking about finances is personal, so finding someone that you trust is key. Spend some time researching local financial experts in the area to determine which company is the best fit for you and your unique financial situation. Finding the right team of advisers to support you and the goals that you’ve outlined is a critical part to your success in sticking to a fiscal plan.

“Having good tax and financial advisers can help with the little decisions and the big decisions but focus overall on ensuring that you’re putting yourself on a firm footing for your future and for your family,” Klintworth said. “There are so many nuances to consider that it’s important to have that right team.

“Note that I talk about team, because it’s not about having a good investment adviser or tax adviser, but having both of those relationships, along with others such as attorneys and insurance brokers, to ensure that they all are looking out for your best interest. The more well-rounded your team is, the better position you can end up in financially.”

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Greg Harr, CPA at O’Donnell, Ficenec, Wills & Ferdig, LLP, encouraged that once finding the right advisers, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

“Prepare your questions beforehand,” he said. “Assume you don’t know the answer and ask questions if your adviser uses acronyms or words you don’t understand. Take notes if there are important dates.”

Prepare a Plan for a Financial Future

Think about what you want your future to look like. How much money do you think it will take to achieve the goals or ideas you have in mind? Dream big, but make sure you have a plan that will let you realize some – or all – of those dreams. If possible, get your plan in place as soon as possible.

“As we all know, the pandemic overall was a negative event, but a silver lining is that it gave many people the gift of time,” Egermier said. “I’ve seen a lot of clients who have used this time wisely and familiarized themselves with more complicated investment strategies, as well as technology.”

Harr suggested making a plan and sticking to it.

“If an emergency happens, do your best to recover and get back to the plan,” he said. “Planning is very helpful in order to avoid stress.”

Not only does financial planning help alleviate some of worries that you might have about your financial future, but it can also give you the confidence you need to know what will work best in handling your money.

“Take the time to get involved in your financial wellness,” recommended Klintworth. “Don’t wait for an issue where money becomes tight to get you focused.

“The sooner you can start to plan, the better off you end up. It is not always fun to start the process, but once you have a good financial plan in place, you’ll end up feeling so much better and more confident.”

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to the basics of financial wellness, is to prioritize saving.

“My advice would be to start with a strong foundation by focusing on saving as much as possible while maintaining a good life balance,” Egermier said. “The earlier you start, the better your chance you will have of your savings goals being successful. Having financial wellness is a lot like having health wellness. We all know how to stay healthy (diet and exercise). In the world of financial wellness, boiled down to its simplest form, is to save more then you spend.”

When it comes to taxes, it’s important to plan well, too. That means, you should make sure you assess your withholdings every year to determine if it’s what works best for your family.

“Our standard jumping off point is withholding 15% federal and 5% state taxes, but it will vary based on the individual’s income,” Egermier said. “Taxes are very fluid and seem to change regularly.

“For example, earlier [last] year we anticipated the passage of new legislation that would increase taxes, especially on high-net-worth individuals. That legislation never passed, but it still could in the future. Since the tax environment is constantly evolving, I always recommend we review tax withholdings annually, and making adjustments as necessary.”

Financial Wellness Begins with You

Finances – and the stresses that come with it – can be challenging. Money ties into nearly every part of your life, even your mental health. That’s why it is important to stay on top of it and have a plan that works for your specific situation.

“Financial wellness really is a moving target, so it’s something that can be hard to hit, but it’s important to keep getting better and stronger and more comfortable,” Klintworth said. “Some of that involves learning more about your own situation to make sure that you are involved enough to know all that is going on. Tackling these issues head on can help make things less stressful and allow you to focus on the more important items – like family, hobbies, and those around you.”