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Why Financial Planning?

I had an interesting talk with Leah on Friday. She wanted to know what I do with my "paying clients" -- what the process was and what services I provided. I was happy to share the entire financial planning process with her, but also to explain that she and Eric are not my typical clients. My average client comes to me with money that they want help investing...when they come to me with significant debt and no investable assets, I refer them to debt counselors and ask that they return when the debt is paid off or at least manageable.

I think Leah was asking because the whole reason she signed up for Budget Boot Camp was to get the "free services" of a Financial Planner, and I get that! I wouldn't expose my financial woes (or other problems) online if there wasn't a payoff. And it's a good payoff! I charge clients $2,500 for the process I describe below.

When I signed up for this, I did it for the opportunity to help a family that I wouldn't be able to bring into my practice otherwise, as debt reduction is not my specialty. That said I had every intention of doing a full financial plan for my chosen family. When I went to Columbus in Nov. I had every intention of starting the comprehensive planning process...but little did I know that when I asked Leah and Eric to tell me about their family histories in reference to money, they talked for 3 hours! It was fine with me and I was fascinated with their stories, as I am with all the people I work with.

So I explained to Leah that to complete a financial plan for her, I already had the nuts and bolts (income, expenses, property and debt) but what I also needed was their goals and dreams for the future (more children?, buy a house, college, retirement, etc). A plan would then map out how much needed to be saved for each goal. Included in the plan presentation is a lot of education on insurance (I can also provide a P & C insurance review, as well as life insurance) and investments 101.

I told her that the plan could be depressing, in that until the debt is gone, they can't move forward on their goals. On the other hand it could be just the motivation they need to buckle down and pay off debt, so they can move forward with the rest of their lives! To be honest, I'm excited to move ahead with this part of our project and Leah is looking at dates that she and Eric can come to my office in Atlanta. If they can't get childcare I told her to bring the baby and one of my kids can babysit!