Our financial planning voyage — Part 1

Much like my mortgage shopping voyage, I’m starting from scratch-ish trying to make a financial plan, and I’m hoping to share what I learn in the process, and hopefully other folks can use this as a shortcut to the jump-off point for their own exploration. To begin with, I think my family is in pretty decent financial shape, so this voyage won’t be relatable to everyone. Probably young families blessed with good income. But if you’re in a similar boat, I hope this helps you out.

Who we are

So here’s my/our background. After spending much of my twenties in grad school or trying to launch my own startup, I didn’t have much financially to show for it. No credit card debt, but a lot of student loan debt and pretty much no savings.

As I neared 30, I started working for tech companies. My wife had also changed careers a couple years prior, and we both progressed professionally. Jen and I got married in a traditional (read: pretty expensive) ceremony. After our wedding, we decided to make 2016 a carefree year of travel before trying to become parents. 2017 became a year of adulting, with us buying a house while Jen was expecting. So we haven’t exactly been frugal, and we know we need to be more intentional and sustainable for the long-run.

Where we’re at today

So here we are in 2018. We’ve got our house, and Natalie has joined our family. We’re in good financial shape and we’re doing a lot of individual smart things, but what we don’t have is a holistic financial plan. I’ve made that one of my goals of the year. Jen has graciously delegated to me full latitude to figure this thing out.

My plan to make a plan

My thought was, I’d get some recommendations, find a planner, and get some sort of Financial Plan I can more or less set-and-forget. I basically want an allowance to live on and then to have the rest of our money working for us in a sensible way.

That turned out to be naive. I quickly realized the financial services world is a jungle. Most providers specialize in pieces of the puzzle, like life insurance, but not taxes. What I don’t want is to have 5 different people deep in my finances, telling me different things and me having to piece it all together.

I realized I was going to have to get my hands dirty and do some serious research to get my literacy up. I still have the same goal, but I’m now embarking on a quest to build the knowledge to get there. One early learning is that all of the early things I’ve read recommend finding a fiduciary. Within the next month, I’m hoping to have read several books on the topic so that I can create the draft list of work items I want to take care of and then find the right fiduciary to execute the plan. If everything works out, Part 2 will try to recap what I’ve learned at the end of this research process, and Part 3 will be what we did to get this plan setup.

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