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Knowing your financial destination can help you prepare for accidents, setbacks

Jennifer Pagliara, CFP®, CTFA, Executive Vice President and Financial Planner
Jennifer Pagliara, CFP®, CTFA
Executive Vice President and Financial Planner

How many times have you and your family gotten into a car without knowing where you were going for dinner? This likely happened a lot more before the internet was in the palm of our hands. I know when I was growing up, this was a common problem. We’d pile in the car and drive endlessly until we could all finally agree (after much bickering and sometimes tears) on where to eat. Then, it was off to our destination and nothing else was in our way.

Financial planning is similar to this situation, believe it or not. You can waste time and money fretting over what you should be doing financially if you don’t have clear goals in mind. Once you identify what your financial goals are, you can chart a path toward achieving those goals – you will be headed for the restaurant!

Do you know what your financial goals are? If reading that question leaves you panicked, you aren’t alone.

According to a 2013 Gallup poll, only one-third of Americans utilize a detailed budget. A 2017 study undertaken by Capital One revealed that fewer than half of Americans have established a long-term financial plan. Perhaps most telling, the government shutdown earlier this year highlighted the fact that many Americans (nearly 80 percent, according to a 2017 study) live paycheck to paycheck.

Goals-based financial planning has rapidly become the favored approach of many financial advisers. We start by helping clients set and prioritize goals, and then we help develop a plan to achieve them. We also make sure they stay on track and update the plan as their goals evolve over time. Technology has accelerated the popularity of this planning technique, allowing advisers to create and monitor individualized strategies for clients through innovative software.

If you haven’t identified your own financial goals, here are three steps that should help you get started:

  1. Start by writing down what you think your financial goals are. It could anything from buying a house to paying for a child’s education to retiring at age 60. If you are struggling in this stage, your financial adviser can really help. Most of us talk to clients all day long so we hear every goal that you could possibly imagine and probably some that you haven’t. We can help point you in the right direction.
  2. The next step is prioritizing your goals. Is paying for your child’s college going to trump your planned retirement at age 65? Most of us don’t have all the money in the world, so some sacrifice will be necessary. This step will help you determine what is really important to your family.
  3. The last step is to chart out a plan. You need to figure out how much to save for each goal so that you can achieve it on time. This step is ideally executed with the help of an experienced financial adviser who can help you identify how much you need to save and how to incorporate the plan into your everyday life.

Jennifer Pagliara, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, is an executive vice president and financial adviser at CapWealth and a proud member of the Millennial Generation. Her column speaks to her peers and anyone else that wants to get ahead financially. For more information, visit This article was published in The Tennessean on April 29, 2019.

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