Starting Out Checklist

Starting Out Checklist

General information Yes No N/A
1. Has relevant personal information been gathered?
2. Has financial situation been assessed?

  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Assets
  • Liabilities
Savings and cash management Yes No N/A
1. Have financial goals been discussed and prioritized?

  • Cash reserve for emergencies
  • Saving for down payment on home
  • Saving for other major expense (e.g., car, travel)
  • Saving for retirement
2. Have saving and investment vehicles been established?

  • Savings account
  • Checking account
  • Money market account
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Annuities
  • IRA
  • 401(k) or other retirement plan
3. Has making appropriate investment decisions been discussed?

  • Risk tolerance
  • Liquidity needs
  • Time horizon
  • Types of investments (e.g., income, growth)
  • Diversification
  • Tax consequences
  • Dollar cost averaging
4. Has a budget been prepared?
5. Is an appropriate financial record-keeping system being used?
Credit management Yes No N/A
1. Has good credit history been established?
2. Have ways to maintain a good credit history been discussed?
3. Has outstanding consumer debt (including interest rates) been listed?

  • Credit cards
  • Auto loans
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Other secured or unsecured loans or lines of credit
4. Have ways to reduce consumer debt been discussed?

  • Paying cash vs. using credit
  • Lowering interest rates on loans and credit cards
  • Consolidation of student loans
  • Debt consolidation loans
  • Use of home equity loan
Insurance planning Yes No N/A
1. Have insurance needs been reviewed?

  • Health
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Auto
  • Homeowners/renters
  • Liability
2. Is group coverage available from employer or other source?

  • Health
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Auto
  • Homeowners/renters
  • Liability
3. Does insurance need to be purchased or upgraded?

  • Health (including short-term coverage)
  • Life
  • Disability
  • Auto
  • Homeowners/renters
  • Liability
Retirement planning Yes No N/A
1. Have retirement income needs been evaluated?
2. Have retirement income sources been discussed?

  • Social Security
  • Pension
  • 401(k)s and other retirement plans
  • Personal savings (including IRAs)
Estate planning Yes No N/A
1. Is there a will?
2. If so, was it drafted recently (i.e., within the last five years)?
3. Have durable powers of attorney been executed?
4. Have health-care directives been executed?
Tax planning Yes No N/A
1. Has appropriate income tax filing status been chosen?
2. Has proper income tax withholding amount been calculated?
3. Will estimated income tax payments need to be made?
4. Is self-employment income a consideration?
5. Has personal deduction planning been explained?

  • Taking standard deduction vs. itemizing deduction
  • Timing of deductions
  • Limits on deductions
6. Have relevant deductions and credits been reviewed?