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Start a financial plan to hit goals

January is traditionally a time to revaluate and set new goals. The last year has been a rollercoaster ride for many people’s financial plans and investment portfolios. This makes it even more important to take time to make sure your goals are realistic, check where you are now and get back on track. What is the best way to get this done? Meeting face to face with a qualified financial planner is still the best way to get a personalized plan.

Before reviewing your plan or starting a new one, get yourself ready. First, write down your goals and put them in order of importance. Be sure to include goals for this year and the future. Finally, write down how much money you think you need to achieve each goal.

Knowing what type of advice you need, will help you chose an adviser. When you interview candidates, and you should interview at least three, you can ask how they would address your specific topics. Check out the Financial Planning Association (, Certified Financial Planner board (, Garret Planning Network ( and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors ( for lists of questions to ask potential advisers.

Step two is to gather information on your current income, expenses, assets and debts. Once you select an adviser, that person will need this information to advise you properly. Having it together makes the conversation meaningful. When you are interviewing, the advisers should give you a detailed list of the items you need to bring to the planning meeting.

Some say they don’t have enough assets or complicated enough finances to make it worthwhile to meet with a financial planner. Today there is a lot free investment information available at a mouse click. However, there are few resources available on developing a personal financial plan. Having a well thought out financial plan before you start investing is a crucial part of a successful investment program.

One site that looks at more than just retirement or education goals is Boulevard R. The site’s goal is to educate consumers in a confidential, interactive way about financial planning.

The site will not create a complete plan however, it will help you indentify where you are today, your important goals and provide guidance on achieving them. A plus is that it looks at other goals besides retirement.

You can access the planning tool by choosing a local adviser at

Follow these steps to see if your financial plan is realistic and you are on track. If you don’t have a written plan, find some help and get started now!

Tom Roberts, principal of A New Approach Financial Planning in Manatee County, can be reached at (941) 927-9590 or