11.2.1 Information needed to plan
- Start with accurate information. Set aside some time to gather all your records. When you have your information organized, you'll be able to make a better plan. A large accordion file will help you keep organized through the year.
- If you work with a financial professional, bring a summary of the information when you meet.
A financial plan needs information about your current financial situation. Start by gathering as much of your financial information as you can. Estimate anything you don't know, and update the figures later. To start with, you will need information on:
- What you own (your assets)
- Include big items like your home, car, recreation vehicles, savings and investments.
- Look at documents like bank and investment statements, retirement savings, other pension papers, etc.
- What you owe (your debts or liabilities)
- Include student loans, mortgages, car loans, consumer loans, credit cards and other loans or bills.
- Look at mortgage documents, loan papers and credit card bills.
- What you make (your income)
- Include your pay and other income.
- Look at tax returns, pay stubs and investment statements.
- Use your income before taxes and other deductions. Some deductions, like union dues or charitable donations, are expenses, while others, like pension contributions, become assets.
- What you spend (your expenses)
- Include basics like food, shelter, clothing, utilities and car costs, as well as other expenses like eating out, insurance, health or dental bills, and money you donate.
- Start with your bills and receipts. For an accurate summary, use your bills and receipts together with a record of your spending to prepare a monthly budget (see the module titled Income, expenses and budget).
To fully review your current situation, you will also need information on wills, powers of attorney, income taxes and insurance policies. These are discussed in other sections of the Financial Toolkit.
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