The Approach To Financial Planning

Planning involves four parts.

  1. Have a vision
  2. Clarify a strategic view point.
  3. Discover and choose among tactics to meet your needs with the resources you have available.
  4. Implement your choices.

The order matters. If you start with tactics (methods) you are likely to find tools that are good tools, but they may not match your resources, your purposes or your priorities.

The very best tactics only work if they address a problem or opportunity that you wish to address.

Write things down

There are two good reasons to write down what you are doing.

  1. Write down your thoughts. Consider what you are trying to do, what you have to do it with, when you want it, why you want it, why you don’t want some of the other things available, who is on your team, and  where will you be.while it all comes to pass. This is about effectiveness. Doing right things. Writing helps clarify and make the pieces fit together better than does just thinking about it. The idea is to find voids and conflicts and then develop an appropriate time scale to address everything. That’s how you get priorities that work. When you have that, the why you are doing it becomes clear and that’s where your motivation to carry it out comes into being.
  2. Followup. Every plan needs maintenance. Maintenance is accomplished by comparing actual outcomes with what the plan anticipated. It is very hard to do that without a written base you can address. No one has a memory good enough to recall the reasoning behind the plan. You will find two things. You didn’t do what you needed to do, the situation has changed, or you were too optimistic when you created the plan. Followup and maintenance is how you make the plan evolve to something that works. Few first planning attempts turn out as people expect

If you follow this approach, where you end up will be a good place for you. If you do not, you will give up and build a somewhat random outcome.

Avoid random

Planning is a way to make the future something you can anticipate. Reasoned anticipation is a defence against stress and anxiety.

Random tends to let financial things inhibit other important parts of life. Relationships in particular.

The bits to take away

If you don’t want to do a plan because it seems too complicated, start at the vision and then answer the “W’ questions that outline strategic capabilities and limits.

Tactics are always overwhelming because the steps are complicated and ever-changing. Tactics are where help from an advisor is worth the most. They keep up to date and know where to look for methods. They do better and you can decide easier if they have a clear idea of what you are trying to do.

You are the planner and advisors are assistant planners. Never give up the strategy stage to anyone else. If they can point out voids or conflicts in yu plan, then listen, but retain the right to decide.

Financial matters impose limits on your life. Careful effort minimizes those limits. Do not make financial planning the most important part. A good plan supports the important things and a weak one makes those harder to achieve.


Help me, please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at

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