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Do You Have Financial Peace of Mind?

At one point or another, many of us have asked ourselves questions ranging from “Have we saved enough to purchase our first house?” to “Can we afford college tuition?” to “Have we saved enough to retire?” In essence we are asking ourselves, “Am I going to be ok?”

The first step to achieving any of these types of milestones is to develop a financial plan, which does not necessarily have to be complex or time consuming. Financial planning begins with looking at your big picture. Having a good sense of your top goals and their priorities establishes a direction. Advisors can help bring to life your goals by incorporating factors such as cash flow, investment assets, retirement plans, real estate, insurance and taxes.

Pulling together these financial pieces of the puzzle offers a clearer understanding of how you spend your income and if you are saving enough to meet your short‐term and long‐term goals. The planning process will either give you confidence or make you aware that adjustments need to occur. Either way the ultimate goal is peace of mind.

Here are some areas to consider:

Budgeting and Cash Flow Planning Now and for Retirement
Your budget is essential to plan wisely for current and future goals as it will help determine where your money goes. If you itemize where your dollars are spent you will have a sense as to where you need to cut back, if necessary. Your goals might include paying off debt, saving for a down payment for a new home, buying a new car, paying for children’s education and, for everyone, retirement. Selecting primary goals that are achievable is important. If you intend to maintain your pre‐retirement lifestyle you will need to start saving early so you have a reliable income stream when you are no longer working. Social security is a steady source of income but, considering inflation and health challenges later in life, it is rarely enough to carry anyone through their retirement years.

Investment Planning
Start early and note this important step: pay yourself first. It is wise to take advantage of what is available to you such as contributing the maximum to your employers’ 401(k) plan or opening a Roth IRA. Open an investment account that has assets that align with your risk tolerance. As you approach retirement your views about risk may change but this does not mean that you should stop investing. Your investments should eventually provide a good income stream in conjunction with social security.

Tax Planning
Proper tax planning takes a long‐term approach. It is important to evaluate current holdings in your investment accounts to determine from which account to draw and which assets to select in order to achieve the best tax outcome. If proper planning is done you can reduce income taxes, defer capital gains and minimize estate taxes.

Insurance Planning
Another important step is to always have health insurance! Simple routine doctor visits can turn into costly events. Auto and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage is important to avoid financially debilitating events. Disability insurance can provide a percentage of your salary if you are unable to work. In middle age you might consider searching among long term care insurance providers because when you are older it will be very costly, if it is available at all. Life insurance should be sufficient to support your spouse and help your children until they become independent.

Legacy / Estate Planning
Develop your team of advisors who have the expertise to help you avoid major mistakes. Your financial advisor, estate planning attorney and certified public accountant can work together to help you pass your wealth on to your beneficiaries in the most tax efficient manner. Plan for your legacy during the healthier years of your life!

Plan Well / Live Well
There are many financial planning tools available and finding the right one is important to help you achieve what matters most in your life. Ledyard’s Live Well Planning approach utilizes technology in conjunction with our team’s expertise and helps clients have more peace of mind. We can help you strategize and visualize a plan to help achieve your dreams. Our scenario‐planning technology is powerful, helping you see the impact of the “what ifs” before you make important decisions. Our approach stress‐tests various scenarios providing confidence with achieving success.

Having online access to your plan anytime to monitor your progress is another important way to help you stay on track toward achieving your life goals. We help clients plan well so they can live well.

Diane DeStefano
Senior Financial Advisor

Karen Crump
Senior Portfolio Manager

Fred Wainwright
Senior Investment Strategist

Monique Brown
Senior Financial Advisor

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