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An Example of Our Checklist-Driven Financial Planning Process Thumbnail

An Example of Our Checklist-Driven Financial Planning Process

I often describe the financial planning we do at Keen Wealth as a checklist-driven process. Using checklists does not just ensure that my team always has the relevant issues covered. It gives financial planning a structure that helps folks understand how their money is working for them. Our checklists also keep the lines of communication open and can spark some important dialogues that help us understand what financial issues are on folks' minds, what life transitions they may be anticipating, and what problems we may be able to help address.

Here are three groups of checklists that are central to Keen Wealth's process:

1. Seasonal Checklists

For my team, the start of the New Year puts a big spotlight on tax preparation. Some of the items on our First Quarter tax prep list includes working with clients to insure that:

  • All tax related forms including 1099’s from custodians and banks are gathered.
  • Charitable giving receipts are compiled, including cash donations, stock transfers, in-kind donations of property, qualified charitable distributions and donor advised fund contributions.
  • IRA contributions are topped off for the previous year.
  • Updating dependents (which could include older parents or other relatives).

Putting all these things together can take time, and combined with the potential delay in tax documents or corrected tax documents being sent out, we recommend most clients wait until March before meeting with their CPA.

The Second Quarter can be a great time to "spring clean" your finances, which might mean:

In the Third Quarter, you might be thinking about budgeting for the summer and fall, such as:

And then in the Fourth Quarter, we prepare to close the books on the year by considering:

  • Medicare Open Enrollment options.
  • Year-end charitable giving, including qualified charitable distributions (QCD’s), cash gifts to family, and other donations.   
  • Verifying seniors 72 and over have taken their required minimum distributions (RMD) for the year.
  • Year-end tax planning.
  • Goal setting for the year ahead.

2. Transitional Checklists

The second group of checklists we use help to prepare folks for major changes in their lives: having children, buying a first home, changing jobs, and, of course, retirement.

Our Pre-Retirement Checklist lays out the decisions that someone should make if they're aiming to retire in the next twelve months. The goal is to create a glide slope that helps people think about how retirement is going to affect their lives, to plan ahead for retirement, and then ease into the Golden Years when the time is right.

Some of the questions we aim to answer are:

  • What are the sources of income in retirement?
  • How will the tax situation change?
  • How will pre-65 retirees manage health insurance?
  • Are both spouses retiring or is one still working?
  • Are both spouses aligned on spending, saving, and investment goals for retirement?
  • Who are the people close to the retiree who will provide an emotional support system?
  • Does the retiree plan to stop working altogether or will he or she take a part-time job?
  • What are the passions the retiree plans to pursue in retirement?
  • What is on the retiree's bucket list?

3. Master Checklist

Above are just examples some of the checklists that we work with at Keen Wealth. Each of these checklists can be personalized to fit individual needs. Each can be adjusted to suit external changes (such as tax laws) and personal ones (such as the birth of a child or a change in income).

These checklists filter into our Master Checklist, which encompasses the major factors of a holistic financial plan:

  • Current income.
  • Household spending.
  • Insurance.
  • Tax planning.
  • Estate planning.
  • Anticipated life transitions.
  • Emergency reserves.
  • Retirement income needs.

Checklists add up to more than just numbers. They give my team a comprehensive picture of a person's whole life and allow us to have meaningful conversations with you without having to worry about, “oh, did we forget something?” Most importantly, by filling in that picture to include everything we can see coming, Keen Wealth can build flexibility into the financial plan to prepare folks for all the unexpected bends in the road ahead.

As you read through these sample checklists, did you notice any potential issues in your own financial plan that you need to address? Call up my team at Keen Wealth and we can start crossing off those boxes and sync your financial plan with your life.

About Bill

Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

KWMG, LLC’s dba Keen Wealth Advisors (“company”) is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Overland Park, KS. The company and its representatives may only conduct business in those states where registered or where excluded/exempt or from licensure. For registration information please contact the SEC or the state securities regulators for the states where the company is notice filed. A copy of the company ADV is available upon request. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where the company and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by the company unless a client service agreement is in place. This information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy and is for illustrative purposes only. Clients and prospective clients must consider all relevant risk factors involved with each strategy, including costs or fees, and their own personal financial situations before trading.

The views outlined in the book, Keen on Retirement Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, are those of the author and should not be construed as individualized or personalized investment advice. Any economic and/or performance information cited is historical and not indicative of future results. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

The Amazon Best Seller ranking listed on marketing materials is specifically referring to Best Seller rankings for the Kindle Top 100 Paid Lists under the subcategories of: Budgeting and Financial Risk Management, based on data as of September 5, 2019. Amazon rankings although relevant on how a product is selling overall doesn’t necessarily indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items or similar item categories. Amazon may choose the most popular categories or subcategories within which an item has a high ranking to determine its best seller rankings. These rankings are updated hourly and as a result, should be expected to fluctuate as such. Keen Wealth Advisors and Amazon are not affiliated entities. 

The Steve Sanduski Advisor Network, Belay Advisor, LLC and other third-party contributors to our blogs and podcasts are not affiliated with Keen Wealth Advisors. 

For additional details on Keen Wealth Advisors, please visit https://www.keenwealthadvisors.com/important-disclosures.


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