Episode 6: Create—and nurture—your financial plan

Financial planning

A financial plan is a road map to help you accomplish your wealth objectives. But creating one is just the start. In this episode of “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That,” Oscarlyn Elder speaks with Truist Wealth’s Kristin Beard and Craig Cascio about developing a plan and checking in on your progress. 

Podcast worksheet

Component ID : "accordionGridLayout-1740049118"
Model : "disclaimer"
Position : "left"

Oscarlyn Elder: Hello. If you’re a regular listener, hopefully you have your purpose defined and your wealth objectives developed. But do you have a plan? A workable financial plan requires putting numbers around what it will take to accomplish the top priorities in your life. I’m Oscarlyn Elder, co-chief investment officer for Truist Wealth, and this is “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That,” a podcast from Truist Wealth, a purpose-driven financial services company.

We appreciate you listening. To live out your aspirations, you’ll need to understand what resources you have today and what you’ll need in the future. Then you’ll design a plan, a road map to meet your wealth objectives. But that isn’t the end. Your financial plan should be dynamic and it needs to be revisited periodically. And if you want, an advisor can help you on the journey.

Today I’m talking to two teammates who empower clients to understand the numbers behind achieving wealth objectives. They also help clients adjust course when life changes. Before we begin, if you want to take notes on this or any other episode, use our downloadable, printable worksheet. You can find it at Truist.com/DoThat.

I’m joined by Kristin Beard and Craig Cascio, who help clients through the process of building a financial plan and then monitoring progress of the plan. Craig and Kristin, welcome to “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That.” It’s great to be with you here today.

Kristin Beard: Thank you, Oscarlyn. It’s great to be with you and with Craig as well.

Craig Cascio: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Oscarlyn Elder: Great. Well, before we jump in, I would like for you both to share. What is it that you do at Truist, Craig? How would you describe your work at Truist?

Craig Cascio: I lead our advice and planning team, which means that we provide financial education and financial planning to help clients achieve their goals.

Oscarlyn Elder: And Kristin, how about you? How do you describe your work with clients and advisors?

Kristin Beard: So I help advisors understand and be able to better utilize our planning process and planning tools so that they can be better advisors to their clients and help their clients achieve their goals.

Oscarlyn Elder: And Kristin, I want to note that you have been a guest before on “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That.” It’s wonderful to have you back, and just really looking forward to what both you and Craig are going to share with me today. I think it’s going to help me personally, and I know that it’s going to help a lot of folks as they’re out there listening.

Let’s also take a moment and talk about purpose. Truist is a purpose-driven financial services company, and we believe that an understanding of purpose is really important to achieving financial goals. Kristin, how do you think about your purpose?

Kristin Beard: Well, I have a professional purpose and a personal purpose, but they do overlap. And so I’ll talk about my personal purpose today, and my personal purpose is to make days brighter for those who are around me. I just feel like if we have good feelings, if we can help others enjoy life a little bit more, that life is better and we can accomplish more.

Oscarlyn Elder: Brighter days. I’m writing that down. I love that. Craig, how about you?

Craig Cascio: My purpose is setting others up for success. So I think that covers a lot of things, whether it’s helping clients achieve what they’re trying to achieve, whether it’s helping family members or others in the community, or helping my teammates—to me it’s all about being able to put them in a better position to be successful.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s really powerful, from you both. So brighter days and setting up folks for success, and it really captures what I know about the two of you all really well. So, you’ve done, I think, just a great job of capturing the essence of what it means for you, because it definitely reflects, I think, who you are.

So thank you for being vulnerable and sharing that information with us. Very much appreciate it. And what I’d like to do now is move on and ask you some questions about financial planning. And I know that for some of us, the word “plan” sounds very off-putting—likely sounds like the word “diet” for some folks. It just does not sound enjoyable at all. But what should people know about financial plans?

Craig Cascio: What everyone should know about financial plans is it’s not as scary as it sounds. So you mentioned road maps earlier, and I think of financial planning just like a map to help you get to where you want to be. So everyone has things that they care about, and everyone wants to help others or help achieve those goals that are important to them.

And having a map is really important. So if you know where you want to go, which is the first step, and figure out where you are, then it’s really just thinking about what are the different routes to get there.

Oscarlyn Elder: And this is a map that’s a little bit different than the map we think about when we’re driving because a financial road map, that word “financial” clues us in that it has to have some numbers on it. And some folks love numbers, some people don’t love numbers, but it is a map with numbers.

Craig Cascio: Absolutely. We have to define exactly where it is we’re trying to get to, and I think some people struggle with defining what a goal is and making that goal concrete. But it’s a starting point and it can change over time. So it’s really important to be able to think about what it is you want to achieve.

Otherwise, if we go back to that map again, it’s impossible to get there. If I just say I want to go west, that’s very different than saying that I want to drive to a specific destination. And you don’t know how to get there if you don’t actually set out what those goals are.

So if I think about how somebody might understand their personal purpose and understand what their wealth priorities are, the next step really is coming up with what those goals are.

Kristin Beard: And Craig, when you talk about having a specific destination—not just saying you want to go west—I think the important component of planning, too, is that it’s very personal. It’s about the individual that plan is being created for. So it’s what their destination is. Not just a destination specifically, but it’s where they want to go.

And that to me, when we work with clients, takes away some of that potential feeling of it being overwhelming, too detailed, too much information. Because we can bring the client back to: this is all about you and where you want to go. And when you make it more personal and connect it to purpose, it makes the process a little bit easier.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s terrific insight, Kristin. Thanks for sharing that with us, and I’d like to follow that up with a question for you. Both you and Craig have worked with a lot of clients over the years. How well do folks understand the numbers behind their aspirations, let’s say behind their destination, if we continue with the map analogy. What have you seen from a practice perspective around how folks understand the numbers?

Kristin Beard: Well, it probably won’t surprise you for me to say it varies. Varies by the personality of the client. Some clients are very detail-oriented and they have a good handle on the numbers, and they want to be involved in every aspect of that. There are other clients we find, though, that they’re not as familiar, not as comfortable with the numbers.

And sometimes as we dig in on that we figure out that it’s because of fear—fear of the unknown, but then they’re fearful of knowing it. And we try to work with those clients, too, and help them understand that knowledge can empower them. Because once they have a better understanding of where they are and how they got to where they are, it’s easier for them to start to see the future and how realistic what they want to accomplish in the future will be, given their current road map.

Oscarlyn Elder: Something that you said clicked in my brain, and you used the word “fear.” And I feel like specifically in money conversations, often there are these underlying emotions, right, that are a lens through which we all experience the conversations or determine what to do or what not to do. And for some people it may be fear.

For other people, it could actually be joy. Sometimes there’s even guilt. I’ve seen situations where guilt and shame can come up in these situations as well. And so just acknowledging that there can be an emotional component and having an awareness of that. And I think what we’re going to hear from you all, and you’ve already said it, is that the planning process is really designed to empower and to hopefully strip away any negative frame that may exist. And instead, look for the positive frame—look for that destination and empower people with the data and the tactics to get to where they want to be.

Kristin Beard: You mentioned the emotional side, and I think that surprises a lot of people that the planning process can be very emotional, either because we’re uncovering those fears that maybe the clients haven’t wanted to talk about in the past or they’ve just been avoiding, or it’s the relief, it’s the joy.

I’ve worked with several professors in my career, and they’re very detail-oriented in their particular area of expertise. But a lot of times when it comes to the financial side of things, they’ve just been working hard, head down, saving, being disciplined, doing all those things they want to do or they’ve thought they should do. And they never realized how well they were doing all of that and how it’ll pay off for them. And so we talk to them about retirement and first of all, a lot of them say: “Retire? Why would I retire? Love what I do. I’m not retiring.” But secondly, when we talk to them about how they have all of this wealth that they’ve accumulated, they just sit there and are surprised.

They just didn’t realize that the discipline, the patience that they’d shown through years of their career, really paid off for them for their future.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s an interesting observation and interesting perspective around clients that you’ve worked with who are professors. Craig, are there examples from your career that come to mind around the power of planning?

Craig Cascio: Oh, absolutely. So retirement clearly is one of those things that a lot of folks will simply save money, might be thinking about retirement someday, yet they don’t know if they’ve done enough. And sometimes that fear does come into play where someone is just a little bit scared of seeing what the numbers actually say.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling as an advisor than to be able to show somebody that they’re going to be able to achieve that goal. And for some it might be something different like providing an education for a child or grandchild. It might be being able to leave some sort of bequest for charity that’s important to them.

It might be something else that involves something that’s not financial as well. But knowing that you’ve done what you need to do and being able to see that it’s accomplished is really empowering for a lot of our clients.

Oscarlyn Elder: Absolutely. So we’ve talked at a very high level about the need for some numbers, around a financial plan. It’s really important to take the destination, the aspirations, the wealth objectives, prioritize them, and then move to the numbers and ultimately the tactics that are going to get somebody to where they want to go.

So we’ve talked about that. But that’s really not all that a financial plan does. And you all have started to unpack elements of this. Kristin, from your perspective, how do you think holistically about all that a financial plan can add to life, if you will?

Kristin Beard: Well, I think that once you—think about what’s important to you as a client. If I had to say I’m the client, thinking about what is important to me, what I want to accomplish, taking the time and working with a professional who can help me put the pieces of that together so that I can start to see the vision and what that picture looks like for the future.

Then that, if it’s done well, it should get me excited about where I’m heading. There’s numbers involved in the plan, there’s people. We want to know the people that are an important part of that plan as well, beyond the individual that we’re working with or the couple that we’re working with.

But we also—if a plan is done well, it helps the client know what they should do. It helps the client know when they should do it, how they should do it, but more importantly it should be something that makes a client want to do that. So they get—it gets them excited about their future. It gets them excited about what they can accomplish and moving pieces around so that they understand their goals are appropriately prioritized, fulfilling on their purpose, and that future is where they want to head.

Oscarlyn Elder: And it also—another element that strikes me is a solid financial plan can also clearly illuminate the choices that are available to someone. And in my memory is an experience I had with a client, an adorable couple. They had worked very hard to achieve their financial nest, if you will. And they were retired and thinking about moving states. So they were looking at really potentially living in three different states. And so there was a Florida option and then there were two Mid-Atlantic state options.

And working through their financial plan, lots of different complexities because different tax rates, different costs to living, you know, as far as what types of facilities that they would be in. But really a financial plan that had at least three unique arms to it or three unique routes. I’m going to use your map analogy. It was three unique routes on the financial plan that our team helped walk them through to help them understand the opportunity cost and how each potential path may work out.

So again, to use the map analogy, how long might it take to get to the destination, and how long could they stay at the destination, and what might the impact of that be to whatever legacy they wanted to leave behind? And through that experience, which was—this situation, it obviously sounds more complex.

It was more complex. But as our team was working with this particular couple, what we were able to determine through the analysis was that it actually was not a quantitative or numbers decision. That whatever path they chose, they were going to be able to meet their objectives from a financial perspective. They would be able to maintain the legacy that they had wanted to maintain. And so they were able to shift that conversation to a qualitative one around what was most important to them.

But the power in defining the different paths to the destination, I think it was truly impactful, right, as far as their quality of life, that they had confidence in what the paths looked like and how those paths may work out when they got to the destination.

Kristin Beard: What that makes me think of is two points we’ve already touched on a little bit. But the first about knowledge being powerful, being able to empower a client. So taking that situation, as you said, the choice was not a financial one, it was a qualitative one, because the plan helped them see they had the resources they needed to be able to accomplish whatever they wanted to.

And so someone who may have been fearful going into that, we’ve given them great news, and empowering them to make a different type of decision now. So that’s an important part of the process. Secondly, though, I find most people in life don’t like to be told what to do. They like to have choices, and when you have a choice, then there’s buy-in as well, because it’s not someone telling me what to do, it’s me making the decision of what I want to do.

Oscarlyn Elder: And success. Look, I will share that from my personal perspective starting out in my 20s, the word “choice” was really important to me. So, like decades ago when from a values perspective I felt that success was having choice in life. And having choice, especially in difficult times, right?

And financial planning is often designed to help give that confidence and create that opportunity for choice longer term. Craig, jump in here. What would you add?

Craig Cascio: Sure. A large component of that choice is having educated choice, right? So for you to feel empowered, you have to understand things. And I think that if you look at financial planning, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the dialogue itself. It’s about being able to have those conversations that are important to you.

And just talking some of these things out helps you make some of your goals a little bit more concrete, and it puts it on the table. We always say that listening is the first aspect of creating a good plan. And that’s listening to each other. That’s working with an advisory team that’s helping facilitate that dialogue.

And I think it’s just critically important to make educated choices and to be empowered to make those educated choices versus guessing in the dark. And I think some of the fear we talked about earlier is, folks are scared to make a wrong decision, so they don’t take action. And that is just due to a lack of knowledge and of what those options are or what the impact of those decisions might be.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s right. And it’s connected to something that we’ve talked about before, which is regret avoidance. So, we don’t want to make a decision that we’ll regret, and often that’s because we’re coming from a place of not having confidence, not being informed. So we can see how, holistically, that this all fits together.

Ultimately, financial planning, what I’m hearing from you both, really requires listening. It requires dialogue, good conversation. And the goal is, you get to define the destination. Financial planning helps you develop the road map to get there.

And the goal is to get there with confidence and hopefully, once you understand the different paths, the different routes, you get to choose from an educated perspective which path you want to go on to get to that destination.

Craig Cascio: Absolutely. So if there are multiple ways to get to that destination, again, to think about travel or maps, one of those ways might get you there faster, but the weather might be bad along the way, or it’s a winding path through the mountains that you may not want to drive, right? So you have to understand what those trade-offs are, as we said earlier, to decide which is the path that’s best for you or right for you as an individual or as a family. What makes the most sense? And again, you just need to go through the process and understand and become educated about what different decisions might do to your plan.

So those trade-offs—you’ll hear a lot today about, current generation of parents is putting off retirement in order to save for education. And that might be right for some; it might not be right for others. But unless someone’s taken the time to understand the impact of those decisions, then it becomes really difficult to make the right, educated choice for you and your family.

Oscarlyn Elder: This is why I wanted you on the podcast. It’s really great to talk about financial planning. And now what I’d like to do is have us talk about the components of a financial plan.

Oscarlyn Elder: We’ve talked about the importance of taking the time to develop a road map, a financial plan to help you achieve your wealth objectives. Kristin and Craig, let’s talk about the elements of a financial plan. What do folks need to know? Kristin, why don’t you start us off?

Kristin Beard: I’d love to, Oscarlyn. Thank you. When I think about the components of a financial plan, the first thing I think about are people. So who are we working with and who are the other people that they care for in their lives, their loved ones, those that are important to them that we need to take into consideration as we’re hearing about what they want to accomplish with their future? What their goals, their aspirations, are.

Then we get into more of the numbers. So we think about things like assets, what a client owns, whether that’s personal assets, like an art collection, or it’s their investment accounts or other types of financial accounts that they have been saving for toward the future. We want to learn about a client’s debts or liabilities. What kind of loans might be outstanding—a mortgage, multiple mortgages—gather a lot of that type of information. We want to understand what’s coming in and what’s going out. So what kind of income are they earning? What are they spending? How are they spending it?

And depending on the client situation, we’ll need to get—we might need to get—very detailed, or we can stay a little more high level. So as we dig into the planning process with the client, that level of detail starts to unfold. But it’s a partnership. And again, because this is about the client, painting a picture for them, drawing their map to their destination—although it’s a lot of detail, the clients will work with us, and they open up and share the information that is most relevant for us to be able to analyze and accomplish, or help them accomplish, what they want to accomplish.

The other thing—I don’t know that we’d ever, that we’ve talked about a lot yet—but very important part of the financial planning process is the risk factors. So we want to learn a little bit about what they’ve already done maybe to protect themselves. Do they have insurance policies, or have they been thinking about health care costs? Have they been thinking about long-term care?

So we might get into some of those conversations with a client. And then ultimately as we uncover that information, we like to look at it in a couple of different components. So the past—what have they done up to this point to help them get to where they are, so we can understand where they are today. And then we can start to map out the future.

And once we map out the future, that’s where, as Craig mentioned, we need to be able to start thinking about options and alternatives, because if there are gaps in where they want to go versus where we have them on autopilot—just tracking from their past to their present and carrying that forward to the future—then that’s where the dialogue starts to come into play, and we can help them better understand and advise them on what their options are and their choices.

Oscarlyn Elder: Craig, what would you add to that?

Craig Cascio: Sure. So another really important component to a financial plan is the assumptions that we make. We make assumptions around what somebody’s investment portfolio might provide them over time. We make assumptions about inflation and interest rates and other things that could help somebody or could potentially throw somebody’s plan off.

So the thing about assumptions is they’re just that. We don’t know what will happen for the next 10 or 20 or however many years we’re helping somebody plan for. So it’s important to understand the limitations of those assumptions as well and really think about how planning is not a set-it-and-forget-it or a one-time project. It really is a continual process.

So we start off and we figure out where someone is, as Kristin mentioned, by understanding that, those finances, and then where they’re trying to go and what that gap is. And based on that gap, we provide that education we were talking about before of what those trade-offs are, what those choices might be. And then it’s really up to the client, as we discussed earlier, to make that educated, empowered decision on what to do next.

But the key thing is it doesn’t end there. It’s very important whenever anything changes to be constantly thinking about how does that impact my plan, and making sure that we’re having a continuing conversation. Again, we discussed planning as a conversation, but it’s a continuing conversation.

Kristin Beard: Well, we know that life happens. Changes take place and the destination someone had intended to go or planning to go at one point, because of something that’s happened in their life, that could have changed. And so if we still have a plan that’s pointing them west and they’ve changed their mind and now they want to go east …

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s right.

Kristin Beard: … We have to be able to adapt to that.

Craig Cascio: Yeah, life does happen, Kristin, right? Someone—there’s marriage, divorce, new family members, changes in jobs and careers.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s right.

Craig Cascio: Unexpected things that happen.

Oscarlyn Elder: Parents that need caring for, children who need caring for—there’s just so many different things that can change the trajectory of the road trip, so to speak.

Craig Cascio: Absolutely.

Oscarlyn Elder: Yeah. So to recap, Kristin and Craig, some of the data points that we need to really—that anybody needs, I’m saying we—if I was starting this fresh today, one of the first steps that I would want to undertake would be to understand, No. 1, what do I have today? So, what are my assets? What are my liabilities? The basics of each of those. I would want to understand what income I have coming in, what expenses I have going out today.

And then, part of financial planning is just trying to put some shape to what those may look like in the future. And it may be, if you have a 30-year-old who’s planning to retire at 60, that we’re not going to get that exact. We’re just defining generally what we expect, but putting some estimates out there.

And of course it likely is easier for a 60-year-old who’s looking to retire in five years to put more form around it, to narrow in that estimate. But some view of what the future, we want the future to look like—some model of that with some estimates around that. And Kristin, I also heard you say it’s important to understand what you have done as far as minimizing risk and what comes to mind there.

For instance, like life insurance. So understanding—because part of financial planning is also planning for the unknown and for what may happen, and so understanding that if something were to happen to me, how would the people who depend upon me, what would their lives look like after that? And life insurance is often a component that would need to be worked into the plan.

Kristin Beard: I think you captured it well and liked your focus on the 30-year-old, that there are different levels. This goes back to Craig’s comment about assumptions. There’s different levels of detail or assumptions that we may need depending on where a person is in their stage of life.

Oscarlyn Elder: Yeah, and I think the other element that you noted, Kristin, earlier too, was that—Craig, or you, Craig, you may have touched on this—but what are you doing today, right? So if you’re planning for that retirement destination, how much are you putting in your 401(k) today? You know, what are the regular behaviors that you’re undertaking today to get there?

And we kind of put all of that together. And Craig, I heard two words from you. “Assumptions.” So assumptions about what are you going to earn before you retire, for instance. Assumptions around what’s the inflation rate in the economy and how is that going to impact what I need whenever I retire.

Assumptions perhaps around how long I’m going to live, how long my spouse may live, when we start thinking about legacy planning. So those assumptions are really important, but at some point in there, there’s some math that has to be done, because then you mentioned the word “gap,” right? So we take all of that information, we put it together, we have where we want to go, we have where we are.

Sometimes it maps perfectly and sometimes, like, you have to stop on the journey and decide if you’re going to make one of those choices. So the word “gap” comes to mind. And what I would like you to do is maybe just help me understand the different math. Again, don’t want to scare anybody, but kind of high level, what are the different ways to think about building out the mathematical component to planning?

Craig Cascio: So, one of the things we do very often in a financial plan is, to Kristin’s point, we look at what someone’s been doing so far and we just extrapolate that out into the future. If you do nothing differently, if you just keep doing what you’re doing, where do you end up? And that’s where we find that gap between doing nothing and what we want to have happen. And somewhere there is the opportunity to improve on what you’re doing. And that’s not always the case. There are some people that are doing more even than they need to. And that can be really empowering as well if someone can realize, “Oh, there can be more goals that I can add to my plan. There are other things that are important to me that I can accomplish.” Maybe somebody’s even saving too much or thinks that they need to work longer than they want to.

Oscarlyn Elder: Or maybe they get to take an extra trip. Maybe there’s a trip around the world or something that they have lower down the list that suddenly becomes possible.

Craig Cascio: I’ve had many experiences with clients who simply weren’t spending enough and at the end of the process, you show them that, “You told me that you had these really important things to you—including maybe, again, spending on grandchildren or taking those extra trips—and you’re not doing it.”

But we’re able to show them that look, you have the resources to be able to do it, and we’re able to stress-test that and show even if things don’t go the way that we plan, there’s still enough of a cushion. Go ahead, have fun. Go do it. Or as I said, it might be, “Hey, I want to, I’m deciding to leave some money to a charity that’s important to me upon my death, but I can afford to do something today.”

And that’s really exciting for some of our clients to hear.

Oscarlyn Elder: Absolutely. So, we’ve had a great conversation about the nuts and bolts of a financial plan, but that isn’t the end of the story.

 Next, we’ll talk about the importance of financial planning not being a one-and-done activity.

Craig and Kristin, you’ve gone into terrific detail about the information that goes into a financial plan and how to think about success. Now, let’s talk about an important aspect of financial planning, and that’s periodically checking in on your progress and making changes if necessary—a continuous feedback loop.

Craig, how often should folks revisit their plan and track progress?

Craig Cascio: I would say it’s important that someone revisit their plan at least annually, more frequently if some of those life changes that we mentioned earlier occur.

Oscarlyn Elder: So at least annually, but more frequently, especially when there’s a change in life. So another child, another grandchild, change in job, kind of anything that would ultimately impact the assumptions and/or the starting points for the plan maybe is the way that I would think about it. Does that sound right?

Craig Cascio: Absolutely. Or anything that’s going on in the world. If there is something that is moving markets dramatically or big changes in inflation like we’ve seen over the last year, those are things that are really important reasons to revisit your plan.

Oscarlyn Elder: Great. Kristin, how do you think about it?

Kristin Beard: Well, to complement what Craig said, I always like to think about how can technology help a client, help an advisor as well. There are a lot of capabilities now that connect a client’s online experience with their financial plan, and that can help a client keep confident in what’s happening when those unforeseen economic events start to take place, instead of having to reach out to their advisor right away and figure out, do I need to update the plan?

They can check in on their progress through the technology that we have enabled. And so, that helps a client check in first on their own and do some of their own investigating of what’s happening, and then they can determine, do I need to check in with my advisor?

Likewise, the advisor has access to those tools and can do the same thing. They’re noticing there’s big changes that have happened, then they can do the outreach to their client, too, maybe more frequently based on what might be happening.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s very helpful. Thank you for that. And within this thought of checking in with the plan on a regular basis, right: So what a plan is not, it is not a thick document that should go up on a shelf and only be pulled out every five years. What I’m hearing is that a financial plan is a road map that should be revisited frequently.

Sometimes it might be a year, sometimes it might be quarterly. Different folks have different speeds of check-ins, if you will. And sometimes they’re life events that really cause us to check in out of the routine, if you will. So there may be an out-of-routine check-in, but getting that continuous feedback loop in place, building the habit around checking in, is important.

And I want to tie this back to purpose. Because again, it’s our belief—we’ve talked about this before—that understanding our purpose and how that shapes the destination will help us with those regular check-ins to understand our progress. And then also it will help us really identify when a specific objective may have changed.

Again, we’ve talked about that maybe as being a destination change. So an objective or a goal may need to shift, or how we prioritize a specific destination or goal may need to change. And just getting in the routine of a regular check-in will help us better assess if we’re on the right path to our destination, whether it’s a destination we’ve long identified or it’s something new that we’re having to add because our life has changed.

Kristin Beard: It’s not a financial plan. It’s financial planning.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s right. That’s—hey, thank you, I appreciate that, Kristin. Thank you for that gentle nudge in my language. I appreciate that. It’s “planning”—it’s a verb, not a noun.

Craig Cascio: Oscarlyn, if I could just come back to purpose for a second: I think of purpose as the “why” behind all of those financial goals that we’ve set up as part of that plan.

Oscarlyn Elder: That’s right.

Craig Cascio: And it really helps if you understand how what you’re trying to accomplish ties back to purpose, to stay on track. And I think that’s a really critical step, is to be able to understand how it all fits together.

So even if some of those goals change, we can put them in terms of our purpose and really be committed to staying on top of the plan. And having that more routine check-in and making sure that if it’s important to us that we’re doing everything we need to do to stay on track.

Oscarlyn Elder: Well, Craig and Kristin, thank you so much for sharing your perspectives. A regular financial planning—not plan—a regular financial planning routine is an important element in empowering you to have the confidence and the wherewithal to achieve your wealth objectives. It can be challenging to commit to the process, but once you do it and develop your financial muscles, keep to those routines, you’re likely going to benefit from greater focus and clarity in this important area.

Kristin and Craig, we’re coming to the end of our time together, but one last thing: What’s the one thing you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t done and will commit to doing in the future? Craig, why don’t you start us off?

Craig Cascio: I’ve been meaning to volunteer more. My wife and I are recent empty-nesters and we’ve found that we have a lot more time that used to be filled up with activities with our children or work commitments that we can now redirect toward volunteering. So I need to find where I want to put those efforts.

Oscarlyn Elder: Oh, that’s great. Is there—so I’m going to get personal—is there a particular area or passion area for you that you’re looking at exploring more?

Craig Cascio: Yeah. I have a passion for education and I have a passion for financial planning, so financial education is important to me. And all of the studies and the research show that not enough schools teach our children—our teenagers, our young adults—what they need to know about finances in order to set themselves up for success.

Oscarlyn Elder: Yeah. Thank you, Craig. Kristin, how about you?

Kristin Beard: So, when I joined you before, Oscarlyn, my “I’ve been meaning to do that” was to update my estate documents to reflect a new guardian for my son, and we are in the process. We haven’t fully followed through on that yet, but we have had the discussions with the family members who will be a part of that process, and the next step will be to actually formalize that with an estate planning attorney to get those documents updated.

Oscarlyn Elder: Kristin, you and I shared something in common in that we both were thinking about our estate planning documents and what that looked like. And I’ve been sharing my journey during this podcast around that. And so I am pleased to say that I have met with an estate planning attorney. I feel like such a weight has been lifted off of me that I’ve had that meeting.

And we have a plan. In this situation, it’s a plan for what those documents are going to look like. And I expect to be signing those documents in a few months. So, it—unfortunately, that turnaround time isn’t superquick. I wished I could have just like, signed them the next week after I met with her.

But very soon we’ll be signing updated documents, and I’m just really pleased. I just have a deep sense of peace that this is the right structure with the right folks—family members and others—in place. Like, should something happen to me, once these documents are signed, I really have confidence that both my husband and my daughter will be well-served should something happen to me.

So I’m very excited about that. And I’ll continue to share updates when we sign the documents. I’ll share another update. But there’s just a huge sense of relief to get that done, which I think is relevant to our topic today, because taking those steps—beginning to make progress, knocking out the action steps, gathering the information, following through—can absolutely relieve stress and can also become a positive catalyst for additional change.

Kristin and Craig, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure to have you on this episode, and I look forward to you coming back again in the future.

Kristin Beard: Well, I have certainly enjoyed being back, Oscarlyn. And Craig, I’ve enjoyed the conversation with you as well. Thank you.

Craig Cascio: Thank you both. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Oscarlyn Elder: And thank you, our listeners, for joining me today. If you liked this episode, please be sure to subscribe, rate and review the podcast, and tell friends and family about it. If you have a question for me or suggestion for this podcast, email me at DoThat@Truist.com. I’ll be back soon for another episode of “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That,” the podcast that gets you moving toward fulfilling your purpose and achieving your financial goals.

Talk to you soon.

About “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That”:

Create your financial plan, then keep the conversation going: That’s the message of this episode of “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That.” You might know your purpose and what you want to do with your wealth, but you need a plan—a how-to guide—to accomplish your wealth objectives. And that’s just the start. Ongoing discussions with your advisor can keep your financial plan thriving. Truist Wealth’s Kristin Beard  and Craig Cascio and host Oscarlyn Elder discuss a step-by-step process for building a road map to your future. They discuss (time stamps are approximate):

  • Introducing Kristin and Craig (0:57)
  • Financial plans are like road maps (3:43)
  • Know the numbers behind your aspirations (6:37)
  • How a plan empowers you (08:50)
  • Financial plans and the freedom to choose (15:23)
  • Components of a financial plan (19:21)
  • Assumptions and estimates in your plan (22:11)
  • Checking in on your progress (30:15)
  • What Craig and Kristin have been meaning to do (35:45)
  • Closing thoughts from Oscarlyn (39:38)

Have a question for Oscarlyn or her guests? Email DoThat@Truist.com.