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Financial planning through your life can prevent problems

Sometimes debt issues result from one or a serious of unexpected events, such as a medical crisis, job loss or divorce. However, often they are preventable if you've been conscientious about financial planning throughout your adult life. This can help you have a cushion to weather these blows to your savings.

There are certain points in most people's lives that require an assessment or reassessment of your financial situation and your goals. Professional financial advice, or at least some research and planning on your own, is essential at these milestones, which includes:

-- Your first real job. By making the most of your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you can bolster your retirement savings significantly. Of course, it's important to weigh how much you should contribute while paying off debts like student loans.

-- When you decide to save for an important goal. The two biggest goals for most people are buying a house and saving for their children's educations. These require making spending sacrifices and other wise financial decisions to reach the goal. It's important to put your money in accounts where it's safe from economic vicissitudes, but can still earn you a good return. That's often a balancing act that requires experienced advice.

-- Personal milestones. Marriage, births, divorce and death of a spouse or family member are all life-altering events. However, don't forget the financial component in all of them. They'll likely require establishment of or changes to your estate plan as well as a re-evaluation of your overall financial picture.

-- Nearing retirement. As you get closer to needing to use the retirement savings you've been accumulating, you need to look at your balance of income and growth investments and likely re-balance them. It's also important to determine how you can maximize your Social Security benefits. This is a time where it's probably worthwhile, if you haven't before, to consult with a financial advisor. Careful planning at this time can help you enjoy your retirement years to the fullest.

Of course, every person has different financial challenges and milestones throughout their lives. Some people are simply better off financially than others, regardless of how hard they work and how careful they are about saving. However, making the wisest possible decisions given your particular circumstances can help prevent you from falling into a financial quagmire.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "When do you need a financial adviser?," Keaton McDaniel, Jan. 09, 2017

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