Your financial planning to-do list

Each day this week we'll coach you through tasks aimed at improving your finances, from basic to-dos to more sophisticated investment activities.

Morningstar Canada 5 February, 2018 | 6:00PM
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There's a lot more to financial planning than simply picking good investments.

Before anything else, you need to lay the foundation for a successful financial life -- figuring out how you're doing, assessing and quantifying your financial goals, and making sure you have a safety net in case life throws you a financial curveball. Then, you'll want to ensure that your investments align with your goals, whether these are short- or intermediate-term goals like education savings or a new home purchase, or long-term such as retirement. Finally, you need to craft a strategy for generating cash flows in retirement, both from your portfolio as well as from nonportfolio sources.

All this can seem daunting, and it's tempting to procrastinate and simply hope everything will turn out all right -- which is a very dangerous thing to do. To make things easier, we have broken things down into 14 individual tasks that are aimed at improving your finances.

Each day this week we'll coach you on completing two or three tasks. Those jobs range from basic to-dos like right-sizing your emergency fund to more sophisticated investment activities such as figuring out the mix of stocks, bonds and cash for your retirement portfolio.

You can skip around among the tasks as it suits your schedule and your situation; the jobs don't build on one another, so the sequence in which you tackle them isn't important. But after completing this to-do list, you'll be in better financial shape than when you started out.

Many of these tasks can be done with the help of a financial advisor, but it's still a good idea to go through the process on your own, even if it only serves as a rehearsal for the real thing. At the very least, this exercise can allow you to identify the areas of your financial planning where you do need help.


  • Calculate your net worth
  • Assess cash flows and create a budget


  • Quantify and set financial goals
  • Calibrate your target savings rate
  • Set and invest your emergency fund


  • Create an investment policy statement
  • Invest for short- and intermediate-term goals
  • Assess your asset allocation for retirement


  • Improve your taxable investments
  • Improve your retirement account investments
  • Simplify your investment plan


  • Formulate a strategy for retirement portfolio withdrawals
  • Create a master directory
  • Get organized

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    Morningstar Canada

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