Financial Planning the Right Way: Mapping Your Future With a Professional Financial Advisor

Anyone can write a financial plan, or at least it looks that way. You can consult your banker, go to a brokerage firm, or hire someone who calls himself or herself a financial planner to prepare a plan for you. Financial planning simply is not that complicated, right?

Let's consider what's included in a comprehensive financial plan. There's a section on what happens if you died today. Will estate taxes be due? Does your estate have enough liquidity? Another section outlines what happens if you become disabled or need long-term care. Have you saved enough for retirement? And how will you pay for your kids 'or grandkids' college education? What about charitable giving, income tax savings, and investment allocation?

The first place to start is selecting the right person to develop a financial plan. Find someone with a fiduciary responsibility such as a Certified Financial Planner ™.

It is important to seek out someone who will listen to your objectives and design a plan to meet your goals. Be sure the person you choose to draft your initial financial plan is familiar with how the planning you do in one area affects exit in another. For example, what you do in the area of ​​investment planning can affect your tax planning. What you do to provide for asset protection can affect your estate planning, and so forth.

A sound financial plan should also address how you are expected to have when placed in a variety of scenarios. The only certainty in life is that the unexpected will always happen. When placed in an unexpected situation, most people will tend to make major decisions based on emotion, and then try to rationalize them, underlining their long-term planning. Therefore, a solid financial plan should be flexible enough to accommodate the unexpected. This is especially true in the investment-planning arena. It is important to have a written investment policy statement to help protect your portfolio from unplanned and impulsive revisions of sound long-term policy. Especially in times of market turmoil, investors without an investment policy statement are inclined to make investment decisions that are inconsistent with prudent investment management principles – and their best interest. Your investment policy provides an agreed-upon and well-thought-out framework from which sound investment decisions will be made.

Many people believe the process ends once the plan is written. But good financial planning means regularly monitoring and adapting strategies to ensure you're meeting your goals. Remember, you're not just trying to create an end product that will not ever need to change. You're developing a map that will help guide you toward financial stability. And regular comparisons of where you planned to be in the future with where you actually end up can generate important discussions about why you ended up where you are. Are you ahead of plan because your investment portfolio did better than expected, were taxes lower than expected, or maybe you spent less than expected? The reason you end up at a particular place is important to understand because that determinates what types of adjustments might be needed for your plan A financial plan that's developed with the help of a professional financial planner could be the right map to help you reach your financial destination.

Many people can help you prepare a financial plan, but the most successful plans are crafted by professional planners which allegiance is to you, the client. Professional planners have the credentials and understanding to know how the different areas of financial planning affect one another so they can help determine what is right for you. And professional financial planners will follow up with you after the plan is in place to assist in analyzing deviations from the plan in order to make competent adjustments to steer you away from failure.

Corporate Event Management

Corporate event management involves managing various corporate events that can be a special media event, an internal event or event open to the public such as a fundraising gala. They are usually managed by a professional planner which specialty is corporate events. An experienced event planner has the expertise to research and plan a successful event from start to finish.

Some of the common examples of corporate events are launching a product, road show, galas and media event with corporate sponsorship. The events are managed according to their relative nature, keeping in mind the aim of the event, the audience to be reached and the content of the message to be transferred.

Launching a new consumer product is a good example of what a planner does to manage this type of corporate event. Launching a product involves consumer conviction as an ultimate goal. The customer has to be persuaded to buy the product by using innovative ideas. A corporate event manager might set up a convention to launch the product. This would involve planning all pre-convention meetings, working with graphic artists, writers and printers for all printed materials, choosing a location for the convention, selecting food and entertainment, etc.

The basic requirement for managing a corporate event is a step-by-step disciplined to see through various tasks from start to finish. There are many corporate event management companies offering professional services. They will work with the company contact one-on-one to make sure all of the needs and wishes of the company are met when putting together an event.

How Do Credit Card Companies Make Money?

Credit cards have gained much popularity in India over the last few years. Public sector banks as well as private banking institutions have come forward to launch a host of credit cards suiting customers with different types of needs. HDFC Credit Cards and SBI Card are the two companies with the largest market share. While banks are ready to offer you with a small loan in the form of credit cards, have you ever wondered how these banking institutions make money from these ventures?

The three main ways how card issuers make money is through the annual fee of the card, interest charged on late payment, penalties on skipping EMIs, etc. At the same time, they also earn from the businesses that accept these cards. Businesses are required to pay transaction fees to the banks which also makes up for significant earning of the card issuer banks.

But before we dig deeper into how they make money, let us first understand the term 'Credit Card Companies'. It is easy to get confused between credit card issuers and credit card networks. An issuer is the bank or financial institution from which you take the card. You are taking a loan from the card issuer and paying back to them. A credit card issuing company is usually a bank. On the other hand, credit card network refers to companies that process the transaction. Currently, there are three major networks in India- VISA, Master Card and RuPay. Apart from these, American Express and Discover cards can also be found.

So, when you make a transaction with your credit card, your money moves electronically from your bank through the network to the merchant's bank.

How do credit card companies make money?

As mentioned above, your bank makes money majorly from you and also from the merchants where you use the card issued by the bank to make the payment. Banks or financial institutions make money in the form of-

Fees

Banks charge different types of fees from their cardholders- some fees are to be paid by everyone whereas other types of fees are levied on condition. Let us talk about these fees and charges-

  • Annual Fees- You have to pay annual fees towards your credit card, especially when you are an elite cardholder and enjoy higher benefits than normal users. This is to be paid by all users. However, some banks may set a condition of spend based annual fee reversal scheme.
  • Cash Advance Fees- When you withdraw money from an ATM using your credit card, the bank charges a minimal fee for it which is normally correlated to the amount you withdrawal. This is also included in the card issuer's earnings.
  • Late Fees- Your card issuer charges fees from you if you delay your EMI payments. Banks make more money from late payers in the form of late fees.
  • Balance Transfer Fees- When you transfer outstanding balance from one card to another, the bank charges fees from you which again becomes its earnings.

Interest

The bank or financial institution has just gifted you a credit line. You have to pay the interest for the loan that is offered to you in the form of credit card. This interest cost adds to your expenses and is a method of earning for the banks. Interest on credit card is charged on daily basis for as long as the amount stands outstanding in your account. This is why experts always advise you to pay the total outstanding amount in full every month because interest will accrue on any amount that stands unpaid.

Let us understand this with the help of an example. Suppose the billing date is on 4th of every month and payment due date falls on 29th of every month. APR = 24%

  1. 10th March- Apparel Shopping- Rs. 5,000
  2. 13th March- Bill Payment- Rs. 2,000
  3. 19th March- Gadget Purchase (converted into 6 month EMI) – Rs. 12,000
  4. 22nd March- Dining Bill- Rs. 1,000

Now considering that the person does not have any outstanding amount from the previous bill, he will have to pay Rs. (5,000 + 1,000 + 2,000 +2000) = Rs. 10,000.

This will be the total amount due on 29th March. Now if the person chooses to pay only Rs. 6,000, the remaining Rs. 4,000 will accrue interest for each day until the amount is paid in full. Considering that the user again pays Rs. 2,000 on the 10th of April, let us see how interest cost works out-

Interest = (outstanding amount x 2 percent per month x 12 months) * (number of days) 365

In this case, the total interest charged would be Rs. 52.60 which is a total for Rs. 4,000 that lies outstanding for 11 days and Rs. 2,000 that lies outstanding for 18 days until the next payment. This is the reason why those who only pay minimum amount due tend to fall into debt soon sooner. Cardholders should also note that when an amount is outstanding in your statement, the new purchases that you make are not eligible for the interest free period. This is why interest charge is the easiest way how banks make money out of your credit card.

Interchange Fee from the Merchant

When you use your card at a merchant terminal, the merchant also pays a percentage of the amount to the bank as processing fees. This will also be added on to the bank's earnings. It usually ranges between 1 to 3 percent of the transaction value but may differ from merchant to merchant.

How to save yourself from paying too much to the bank?

Savvy customers plan their transactions and payments in a way that they have to pay the least amount to the bank. These are the habits you can adopt to cut your costs-

  • Pay your entire outstanding balance every month; just pay the minimum amount due is not a good practice.
  • Set alerts for your payment due dates to avoid missed payments which entail late fees.
  • Create an emergency fund to replace costlier options like cash advances from credit card.
  • Choose low annual fee or free credit cards and even if you select a card with high annual fee, make sure that the rewards are worth it.

Feature Stories With Heart

Feature stories have heart. Feature stories have warmth. Most of all, feature stories force a writer / reporter to evaluate the human side of a community – beyond the facts, beyond the opinions – to find the spirit of the story.

I have always favored feature stories (or soft news) as a writer because it gives me the chance to get to know people on a higher level than straight news reporting (hard news) does. Beyond that, it also forces me to work as a reporter with feelings – yes, some reporters have actual feelings.

For the past few weeks, I've evaluated a variety of types of college feature stories in preparation for a workshop I'm presenting at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers National College Media Convention. After sifting through stacks and stacks of archives of papers, I've come to the conclusion that college newspapers are much more active to seek out the feature elements than mainstream, professional newspapers.

My students (and former students) from The Montage, have compiled heartwarming stories of life and death, fun and frolics, and service and sacrifice. Here are a few examples:

"A Day in the Life of Mary Davis:" As a regular series, my students write personality profiles, covering students, faculty, staff, locals, etc. This particular story highlights an 86-year old student still eager to learn.

"Turning Lead into Gold:" This profile provides an in-depth look at a faculty member's passions.

"Inauguration Road:" Following a road trip to the White House for Barack Obama's engagement, two of my students compiled a piece about a 1st person account of the journey itself.

"What's Brewing in St. Louis:" Beer is a priority for many college students. Recognizing this, my students compiled an in-depth centerspread on St. Louis. Louis' beer culture, including a list of "things" to do with beer.

"The Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire:" Fun and frolics come in all shapes and sizes as detailed in this feature about the art of tango music.

This list of stories (found at http://www.meramecmontage.com ) includes a variety of subjects, topics, and angles. Primarily, though, these stories offer readers something "different," something soft – a much-needed break from the heart-wrenching news of reductions, murders, and swine flu statistics. Even more so, they offer reporters (whether student or professional) a chance to explore more than just the facts but rather the fun-loving spirit of life.

I could spend all day listing compelling, heart-warming and entertaining features that have been written by both students and professionals, but I'd rather open my eyes and seek the next big story that could possibly touch someone else's life and in return, touch mine.