By Tyler C. Gilley, CFP®, AIF®, Associate Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

What is the First Step in Financial Planning?

1. Setting Clear Financial Goals.

A long-term financial plan begins with defining what you want to achieve. Your plan should be unique to your aspirations. This could be buying a house, saving for your child’s education, planning for retirement, or any other financial goal. Strong plans often incorporate several goals so that you can prioritize them and decide how much of your resources should be dedicated to each one.

What Other Steps are Involved in the Financial Planning Process?

2. Evaluate Your Current Financial Status.

A roadmap is only going to be useful if you know where you are starting from. Assess your current situation. This includes your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and any existing investments. This will give you a clear picture of where you stand financially.

3. Create a Budget and Manage Debt.

Before beginning your road trip, you need to make sure you can fund it. A budget is a key part of the financial plan that compares and tracks your income against your expenses. It helps you understand where your money is going and how you can control your spending to save more. In other words, it will help you measure—and maximize—how much gas is in the tank.

To extend this analogy: Debt is the heavy trailer you’re towing that can be a significant drag on the goals you aim for. You should take steps to eliminate your debt as efficiently as possible, starting with debt that has the highest interest rate.

4. Implement an Investment Strategy.

Sometimes it can be challenging knowing which road will get you to your destination most efficiently. A financial advisor can be particularly effective in helping you consider various investment and savings options and choosing the right strategy, based on your own investment horizon and risk tolerance, among other factors.

5. Review and Adjust Your Plan Regularly.

Just as a road trip often comes with unanticipated detours or the occasional flat tire, our financial lives are ever changing and deserve regular check-ins. Financial planning is not a one-time task. You need to regularly review your financial plan to ensure it aligns with your evolving financial situation and goals.

Create Your Personal Financial Plan to help Achieve Financial Freedom

Remember, financial planning is a continuous process. It’s about making consistent efforts towards managing your money and resources effectively. At Halbert Hargrove, we work with our clients from the onset of our relationship to better understand their goals and build a plan that sets them on a path to reach them. Our advisers are eager to offer guidance and support throughout your financial journey, aiming to help you make informed decisions and work towards your financial goals.


Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC (“HH”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Long Beach, California. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about HH, including our registration status, fees, and services can be found at This blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized investment advice. It should not be construed as a solicitation to offer personal securities transactions or provide personalized investment advice. The information provided does not constitute any legal, tax or accounting advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney and accountant. All opinions or views reflect the judgment of the author as of the publication date and are subject to change without notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of writing, but no warranty of accuracy is given and no liability in respect of any error or omission is accepted.