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    Financial Planning Services

    Dale Carnegie is famous for saying, “An hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing.” An hour of planning can also save you a lot of stress. Just imagine what financial planning services do for a lifetime!

    Everyone moves through different stages of life where big financial decisions have to be made. It may start with getting married. Then having kids, which requires buying a bigger home and saving for college. As you get into the prime of your career, your employer may offer you benefits that weren’t available to you before. And then there’s planning for retirement!

    That’s why financial planning services are so important. You’ll make better decisions if you’re prepared for those moments, rather than reacting to them as they come up. We offer financial planning services to help your family prepare for the future so you can make smart financial decisions at each stage of life.

    What is a Financial Planning Service?

    According to the Oxford dictionary, a plan is “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.” If you have goals and dreams in life, you have a much higher success rate of achieving those goals if you have a plan in place to do so. 

    A financial planning service is about identifying those goals you have, quantifying them, and then creating a specific plan to achieve those goals. A great financial plan is one that is anticipatory, looking ahead for changes in your life that may happen, such as having children or retiring. But more so, a great financial plan is adaptable. We can theorize about what will happen in the future, but there will always be unexpected twists and turns along the way. Being able to react to those changes and thoughtfully change course with your finances creates long-term financial success.

    The financial plans we create for clients are living documents. As we work with clients on an ongoing basis, we’re constantly updating your plan to make sure it’s fresh and relevant to what’s going on in your life. And as those unexpected twists and turns happen, we’re there to guide you in real time so you make smart financial decisions.

    Areas Covered by Financial Planning Services

    There are several aspects of your finances that need attention. A decision affecting one area of your finances can affect the success or failure of another. That’s why we take a comprehensive look at every aspect of your finances, balancing decisions in such a way that you achieve success in as many areas as possible. This is what an efficient financial planning services should do.

    Cash Flow Planning

    Your cash flow is nothing more than “what’s coming in” versus “what’s going out.” The goal with cash flow planning is to make sure you’re maximizing your resources towards your goals. Examples of how cash flow planning is important are identifying savings goals, such as saving for retirement or the college education of your children. Building consistency and predictability with your cash flow frees you to live your hectic life without worrying, “Are we missing something?”

    Retirement Planning

    How much do we need to save for retirement? It sounds like an easy question, but there’s a lot that goes into it. What kind of lifestyle would you like to have? Do you expect to do work on the side while in retirement? How early do you want to retire? All these questions influence how much you need to save for the future. Our retirement planning quantifies these variables so you know how much you need to be saving each month. 

    Education Funding Planning

    The cost of sending a child to college isn’t what it used to be. It takes thoughtful planning to make sure your child can get the best educational experience that they can have, without burdening them with mountains of student loan debt. How much of the cost do you want to chip in? And how does that influence your other savings goals, such as retirement? We help walk you through these important questions.

    Tax Planning

    Not every financial advisor does tax planning in-house. We do. Why? Because taxes are real and can cost you real money over time if not carefully planned for. Each year, we look at how your current tax year is progressing so you’re not surprised during tax filing season. And if you have unique tax challenges, such as a concentrated stock position with a large gain, our multi-year tax planning will help you see how you can maximize the value of that position.

    Insurance Planning & Risk Management

    By nature, a financial plan is future-oriented. Yet life rarely plays out exactly as we expect. And sometimes, bad things happen. The financial plans we do for you identify, plan, and mitigate risks that may derail your goals. If you pass away suddenly, we want to make sure your child’s education goals are met and your spouse can continue on without having to figure out how to rapidly adjust the family’s lifestyle. 

    Estate Planning

    Similar to insurance planning, having an estate plan in place can save your family a lot of stress if you’re disabled or pass away. Too often, families don’t plan out their legacy, and then relatives fight over inheritances after you pass away. A good estate plan empowers you to make those decisions now so your family doesn’t have to do it after you’re gone. 

    Investment Planning

    Financial plans include short- and long-term savings goals. How you invest those savings is critical to the success of your plan. We look at many factors when making a recommendation for how to invest your savings. Time horizon, liquidity needs, and risk tolerance are all important factors to consider when investing. This is what we cover with our investment management services.

    Financial Planners: What Do They Do?

    What does financial planning service look like in action? When we first work with clients, the data-gathering process is critical. The quality of our advice is only as good as the information we have, so we try to learn as much as we can about your entire financial picture. This includes investment and banking statements, estate planning documents, employee benefits information, and other relevant information.

    Once we have the information we need, we have follow-up conversations to make sure we’re both clear on the questions you want answered and the goals you want to plan for. We want your financial plan to be relevant and actionable. 

    We then get to work putting your financial plan together. Our entire team of advisors is involved, ensuring that each advisor’s particular expertise – whether that be taxes, insurance, or investments – is incorporated into your plan. This is process is what we call our “financial planning service.”

    Finally, we will get together with you and deliver your plan. We explain each recommendation so you understand the reasoning behind those recommendations. You get a hard copy of your plan, where you can take notes and digest it after our meeting.

    We desire to work with you on an ongoing basis after we deliver the plan. That way, you get help to implement the recommendations and get continued access to our Team in keeping your plan fresh and relevant. 

    What is a Comprehensive Financial Plan?

    A comprehensive financial plan considers all aspects of your financial life, covering each of the subject areas talked about above. Many types of advisors will only look at one or two of these areas, such as insurance or investments. But they ignore the fact that decisions in one area influence decisions in other areas.

    Comprehensive financial planning breaks down these silos. We want you to get the most out of your finances. That may mean making trade-offs between different areas. For example, if you have multiple children that you want to send to college, the cost of paying 100% of that expense might affect your retirement. A comprehensive financial plan helps you see those trade-offs, so you can make informed decisions about your finances.

    How much do Financial Planning Services cost?

    We believe in straightforward pricing: Comprehensive Financial Plans typically cost $5,000. If you have a complex financial situation, it might cost more. But we always spell out the full cost before you decide to work with us.

    Are you a Fee-Only Financial Advisor?

    Financial Design Studio is a fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). What does that mean for you, the client? It means the only way we earn money is through fees charged directly to you. We clearly spell out those costs for you before you decide to work with us. 

    We generate no commission-driven revenues, nor do we receive any incentives to recommend certain products or services. This is intentional. You’re paying for our advice, and you deserve advice that isn’t influenced by what strategies we recommend. 

    Who needs a financial planner?

    Everyone needs a financial planner! We truly believe that. However, we work best with clients who have tax complexity due to high income, high level employee benefits, or retirement age income strategy needs.

    Here are some common cases of clients we work with, who benefit from our financial planning services.

    You struggle with the tradeoff between saving for college and retirement.

    With the cost of college being what it is today, parents need to be creative in how they save for college. Too many people think it’s an “either/or” choice between saving for college or retirement. But there are lots of ways to do BOTH in a way that honors your goals and those of your children.

    You’re eligible for more complex employee benefits at work.

    As you advance in your career, you’ll likely be offered forms of compensation beyond your wages and bonuses. Incentive stock options (ISOs), Nonqualified Stock Options (NQSOs), Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), and deferred compensation programs are some examples. These benefits have the potential of being powerful wealth-creation tools, but involve a lot of careful tax planning. 

    You’re wondering whether you can retire early

    Early retirement is a nice “option” to have in your back pocket. It’s a strategy we help clients plan years before their actual retirement date. However, early retirement involves risk. You’re giving up a high and stable income and will live off savings you built up. How will your health insurance be covered? Are your savings enough to cover your living expenses and lifestyle needs? These are questions we help you answer.

    Working With Our Financial Planning Services

    Every client we work with gets our full time and attention. This means that our team is fully involved in analyzing your finances and collaborating on the recommendations we make. 

    A typical plan can take 6-8 weeks to complete. That time frame includes everything from gathering data to presenting the plan to you.

    Data Gathering

    We provide you a list of documents we’ll need from you, which can be uploaded through our secure file upload portal.

    Confirmation of Goals

    After seeing all your data, we’ll hold a meeting to go over all your goals and to answer any questions you may have.

    Plan Development

    Our team goes to work on your plan. We develop recommendations and alternative scenarios so you’re empowered to choose the best path for your family.

    Plan Delivery

    We can deliver your plan in-person or virtually. You don’t have to live in Illinois for us to serve you!

    Technology and security are important to us. It’s our goal to deliver your financial plan in the most efficient and secure way we can.

    Key Takeaways for Financial Planning Services

    We want every client to enjoy the financial planning experience and to walk away feeling confident and empowered with their finances. Good listening is important to this process, because you have specific questions you need answers to. 

    At Financial Design Studio, an experienced team of advisors creates your plan. Each of us has expertise in different areas. We stay up to date with the latest tax laws and financial planning strategies that deliver the most value for clients. And most importantly, we’re personable and easy to work with!

    Ready to take the next step?

    Schedule a quick call with our financial advisors.