Financial Planning Basics

January 01, 2020

Since 2007, money and finances have been the top stressor, regardless of the economic climate, according to an article in the American Psychological Association — and it makes sense why. Money essentially holds the keys to the present and future quality of life that we wish to have for ourselves and our family in Glendale. However, it seems that even though money holds such high importance in our lives that many people don’t invest any time in financial planning — and that is largely due to not knowing what financial planning actually is and how it can help them.  

Many of us have grown up with the idea of saving; we may have had a savings account even as young children and were adamantly encouraged by our parents to put a portion of our allowance in our savings accounts. Or, maybe we didn’t have a savings account, but we had a classic piggy bank that we placed spare change in and hoped to use to buy that skateboard we always wanted. 

For most people, the concept of saving has been ingrained in our minds from a young age. However, strategies for savings were not taught. As a result, it seems that many people believe that if they just throw money in a savings account consistently that they will eventually enjoy the quality of life they have always wanted or retire when they want. Unfortunately, saving without intention often doesn’t work for many reasons. One reason is that “just saving” does not account for factors such as inflation, it does not provide an actual goal which doesn’t offer a metric for success, and it is often complicated by unexpected life events and debt. 

Financial planning is a means to intentionally save, pay off debt, and protect your family if the worst should happen. It is a means to create the future that you wish. With financial planning, you can use all the potential advantages to take you closer to your goals. At Advisory Group West, we say “plan well + invest well = live well,” and our personal financial advisors would like to help you do just that. We would like to close expensive financial gaps, and eliminate duplicated efforts and missed opportunities. 

Stick around to learn more about financial planning, and visit our website to learn more about Advisory Group West, our process, and how our financial advisors in Glendale can help you with financial planning

Financial Planning 101

Financial planning is at its most basic understanding defined as creating a plan for your finances. However, there is a lot to consider when creating a plan. It begins with the most basic parts of our finances and ends with utilizing pertinent financial products and strategies. Before we discuss the products and strategies that we can help you utilize, let us discuss the very basics of financial planning. 


Creating a budget is usually one of the first, basic steps of financial planning that is important for anyone to create. No matter if you are 21 years old and starting your first job, or you are 87 and enjoying the tail-end of your retirement, you need to create a budget. A budget will help you know exactly where all of your money is going, keep you from overspending, and can help you save or pay off debt in a constructive manner.


Next, cutting expenses can often be the next step for basic financial planning. If you aren’t monitoring where every dollar is going with a budget, it is easy to overspend and not even realize it. Many people find that it’s those little expenses that can add up and eat away at their finances. No matter if you are overspending or not, it is always a good idea to take a look at your expenses and observe if they match your life values. 


Debt can be one of the most debilitating financial situations and can feel very defeating. However, creating a plan can help to make it seem less overwhelming by breaking it down into manageable chunks or ways of thinking about it. Creating a plan can also provide peace of mind — when we have a plan or know what we can do about our situation, we can experience reduced anxiety surrounding the debt we own, as well as our entire financial situation. 


One of the elements that sets apart the “men” from the “boys” when it comes to saving is having a set, realistic goal. Anyone can throw money in a bank account. However, utilizing all types of savings accounts (i.e. savings account at your local bank, 401(k) or IRA, life insurance, etc.), as well as having a dollar-amount goal will allow you to rest easy knowing exactly where you are in relation to your goal. 

These are all basic strategies that can help you begin the financial planning process. However, they are just the beginning and are inadequate without implementing the other aspects of financial planning that we will discuss below. 

Financial Planning 102

Financial planning is often thought of as something only for those with an investment portfolio or who have a net worth of a particular amount. However, financial planning is important for everyone who wants to reach their financial goals and to align them with their personal values. Financial planning is pertinent for any other financial planning strategy that we wish to implement. What’s more, our financial advisors think that your financial plan should answer these questions: 

  • How close are you to reaching your lifestyle retirement dreams? 
  • How on target is your current trajectory? 
  • Are you prepared for healthcare costs in retirement? 
  • Where can you find tax efficiencies? 
  • How do I prepare for future taxes? 
  • How can you control elder care costs? 
  • Are my affairs organized clearly? 
  • If I passed away, would the people and causes I love the most, be taken care of? 

Holistic financial planning can help you definitely answer these questions. Other strategies that can support financial planning and can help you answer these questions include: 


Retirement planning is a plan to help you financially prepare to retire. Often, a sound retirement plan can include utilizing a retirement savings plan such as a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA. Retirement planning is something that everyone can benefit from no matter how close or far away you are from retirement. Inflation, debt, taxes, and other factors often complicate the savings process. Retirement planning can help you to see and to prepare for these potential complications. Learn more.


Investing with purpose is one of the best ways to benefit from your investing endeavors. When you have purpose, you can rest assured that you are investing in such a way that your entire financial plan will benefit. When you engage in investment planning for your finances, you can easily diversify your investments, see unrealized growth opportunities, and manage your investments in accordance with your risk tolerance. Learn more.   


Preparing for one’s own death is never a pleasant thing to consider. However, it is a must for anyone. Additionally, preparing for the future includes so much more than creating a will or a trust; creating a will or trust is part of the estate planning process, but this financial strategy provides so much more. Estate planning answers questions regarding: 

  • Taxes
  • Who is to make final decisions or act on your behalf if you can’t answer for yourself
  • Who will take care of your pets or grandchildren
  • How your final expenses will be paid
  • And more

Estate planning will not only provide you peace of mind, but allow you to ease your passing for your beneficiaries by having a clear plan. Learn more.


If you own or run your own business, you need a business succession plan. This plan helps to ensure that your wishes are carried out when it comes to passing your business on to key employees or partners. You have worked hard to create your business, so why leave it up to chance? A business succession plan can provide peace of mind and create a bright future for the business that you have worked so hard to create and grow. Learn more.


Tax planning can significantly reduce your taxes and optimize how you pay taxes. We all have to pay taxes — it is one of our responsibilities as citizens. However, many people aren’t paying taxes in the most advantageous way. Through tax planning, you can: 

  • Learn how to utilize tax-deferred accounts
  • Proactively plan to take advantage of tax incentives and other benefits
  • Avoid expensive penalties and fees related to tax-deferred accounts. 

Through tax planning, you can maximize your income and minimize your taxes. Learn more.

Financial planning is a must for everyone and it can help you with your present financial situation as well as help you prepare for the future. It is a non-negotiable for those wanting to align their finances with their personal values. Though it is easy for anyone to create a budget, to get the most out of your financial planning, you need the help of a financial advisor. They will not only recognize pitfalls, but they will see areas of potential growth. To learn more about what a financial advisor can offer you, visit our website

Contact Advisory Group West

If you would like to learn about how financial planning could benefit you, contact the financial advisors at Advisory Group West. We offer a  Complimentary Cornerstone Vissions™ Strategy Session that can help you understand exactly what we offer and the possibilities for your finances and life. Learn more from Glendale’s Top Rated Local® financial advisors!