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Do You Have a Financial Timeline?

Photo of author, Drew Tardy, CLU®, ChFC®.
Drew Tardy, CLU®, ChFC®
Regional Manager and Financial Strategist

If you don’t, here’s why you should

When you think about it, timelines are all around us and in many ways are used to make decisions. For example, population growth, demographic changes, and technological advancements are just a few of the many timelines we analyze to help us anticipate potential futures and prepare for what may lie ahead.

In that same way, a financial timeline is a great way to help you track and understand financial data points from your past, as well as map out potential data points in the future for planning purposes. Proper and thorough planning can guide you in identifying potential "financial blindspots" or challenges so you can make necessary decisions or changes in direction, all of which gives you a much better chance of reaching your financial goals.

Why Reviewing the Past Is Important

In previous blog posts, my colleagues and fellow financial strategists Teresa Michaels, author of How Peanut Butter Tells My Personal Fiscalosophy Story, and Joshua Johnson, author of Is My Money Improving My Life?, spoke about the importance of understanding your Fiscalosophy, which simply means getting a handle on your personal history, experiences, and beliefs that dictate how you handle your own money decisions. In our work as financial advisors, we know the importance of appreciating where our clients have been in their lives financially, and to understand those key financial highlights from their past, such as marriage, home purchases or sales, birth of children, college expenses for those children, and job changes.

When we understand how and when you have made decisions in the past, it helps us to help YOU reach your financial destination, empowering you with the confidence to make your own financial decisions.

Making the Most of the Time Ahead

Just as important as looking back, is to look to the future. William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst.” Map out your projected timeline to make the most of the time that lies ahead and plan accordingly. What age do you plan to retire? What year do you anticipate an inheritance? When do you start 529 plans for grandkids, or take a family vacation? Is there a chance you may be supporting a parent or nursing home needs in the future?

Thinking through these potential milestones will help with both current and future decisions. Moreover, working with a trusted advisor to think through your timeline can make decision-making much easier. Because of the work we do planning for future events and milestones, and the understanding we gain of a client’s situation, we often find ourselves encouraging clients to spend more, or give now to their favorite charity, or simply to make the most of their money beyond their timeline. Getting the return on life for which they have worked so hard is our ultimate mission in working with any client.


In summary, as you consider your own financial timeline, be sure you are working with an advisor who understands where you have been AND where you want to go. At McKinley Carter, we spend a great deal of time with clients learning and understanding their unique fiscalosophy, and what a “good life” means to them. We are always reviewing and updating timelines and strategies when necessary. Having your financial timeline up to date, complemented by a proactive planning strategy, will give you the freedom to build a better future — and more importantly, the ability to dictate success in your life on your terms.

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