Personal Finance

What is financial planning?

Have you heard these sayings before?

Money can’t buy you happiness.

There’s a lot more to life than just money.

Money isn’t everything and can cause a lot of pain and suffering.

Despite the truth in these statements, it’s also important to recognize that money is very important because it is part of everyone’s life. Not only do we need money to survive, but money is also important to enhance the quality of our life so we can make life more comfortable and fun.

Money is a tool

Money on its own is neither good nor bad. It is a tool that enables you to protect yourself and your family. Money helps you to create a life. It allows you to help others and give back to your community. It helps you to survive by putting food on the table, a roof over your head and clothes to keep you warm. Money may not be everything, but it is important. Financial planning can help you recognize that good financial routines can go a long way toward reducing your financial stress.

Financial stress is all too common in our society and we need to do something about it. The starting point is knowledge, but true success comes from action. It comes from taking control of your financial affairs and developing good financial habits.

What is financial planning?

Do you have a financial plan?

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Financial planning is a broad, generic term that can mean different things to different people. For some, it is associated with financial products like mutual funds or life insurance. For others, it’s simply about getting ahead financially.

If you Google “financial planning,” you will find a lot of attempts at explaining what financial planning is. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of information about what financial planning is or should be, it is still confusing to many people.

The word ‘planning’ means looking into the future to make the future as predictable as possible. That’s all plans are . . . a road map or game plan or framework for the future. Add the word ‘financial’ and a financial plan is simply a look into your financial future to ensure that you are implementing the right financial strategies to get ahead financially.

Maybe one of the best approaches to understanding financial planning is to define what it is not.

Financial planning is NOT:

  • a two-page document you get after spending 15 minutes being told you need to save more money
  • just about buying RRSPs, mutual funds, or other investments to save money for the future
  • about buying insurance policies as the solution for risk management
  • sitting with an accountant to figure out how to reduce your taxes each year

Financial success might come from a combination of all these things but it’s not any of these things on their own. Financial planning is about developing and implementing good, sound, healthy financial habits for the future.

Financial planning is simple, not easy

Financial success is actually quite simple and you probably already know everything you need to know to make it happen:

As simple as it may be, the challenge is that it’s not easy. Why? Because it takes work, effort, awareness, discipline, and change. This resource is designed to help you look into your future and make you aware of some of the financial areas you can address to develop sound financial habits.

Financial planning is not easy to define so chime in and share with others what you think financial planning is all about.


  1. Richard Brown

    One big mistake people make is they overestimate their knowledge of how to manage money and they never put in any effort to plan their finances.

  2. Darren Berardi

    Not making the most of the time available to them is the biggest mistake I see. The sooner you have a plan, the easier it will be to achieve success. You can’t plan to plan in the future and make up for lost time!

  3. JG Larvan

    I agree. No one can really define what financial planning is. But the idea is to plan ahead using your earnings today so that you don’t get too squeezed out in the future when you need money quickly. The sooner you have a financial plan, not necessarily with a planner, the better. It can start by knowing your expenses and knowing which ones to reduce and which products to start investing in more.

  4. Judi Churchill

    Hi Jim,
    I attended one of your seminars when you instructed through the GOA. AFSC in Lacombe may be interested in hosting a Financial Planning seminar for its staff. Can you please advise the cost for this and the ideal number of attendees. Thanks very kindl.

  5. Judi Churchill

    Hi Jim,
    AFSC is interested in hosting a Retirement Planning session in Lacombe. Can you please advise your availability, cost and ideal class size? Thanks kindly.

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