Here’s the thing. People are not robots. They’re logical, but they’re emotional too. We all want to do the right thing, but we also want to kick back and enjoy life.

And even the most disciplined among us―who watch our spending, try to pay off debt and put money aside for a rainy day―usually have limited knowledge of personal finance.

How much, for instance, do you know about cash flow? Tax planning?

This is why you need a plan and a Certified Financial Planner® professional to design it for you. Getting a plan done could be the best financial move you ever make.

So what is a financial plan?

To answer that, I asked CFP® professional Cynthia Kett of Stewart & Kett Financial Advisors.

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What exactly is a financial plan?

It’s a written document that takes a big-picture look at your whole financial situation, both now and in the future. It identifies and prioritizes your short, medium and long term lifestyle and financial goals; it clarifies your current financial position, including your net worth and cash flows; and it specifies the steps and strategies you need to take to get from here to there.


And what else would the plan include?

I like to use sports terminology and break a plan into offensive and defensive components. Offensive would include cash management, tax planning, investment planning and retirement planning. The defensive would be insurance and risk management, estate planning and legal considerations.

The reason why I like to break it into pieces is that offensive strategies drive your financial position forward, whereas defensive strategies protect you and your family in case something should go wrong.


Think of your plan as a GPS. You wouldn’t navigate around a busy city on your own. Your GPS guides you, tells you when you’re off-track and recalculates. That’s what a plan and a qualified planner will do.

Some people worry that a financial planner will take all the fun out of your life―take away your vacation, make you suffer. On the contrary.

To quote Mitch Anthony, “A good financial plan will allow you to live the best life you can with the resources you have.”

To find a Certified Financial Planner® professional in your area that will help guide you financially, use our Find Your Planner tool.

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For more on financial planning and how to get started, watch What is financial planning? and  What is a financial planner?  and read Financial Planning is for everyone.