These certifications ensure that the advisor has garnered the proper education and experience in the financial planning field. Instead, the best financial plans have a will or trust in place that help preserve accumulated wealth and act as guides for how much your designated beneficiaries should receive, and when they should receive it. Now you need a road map for direction. So how should you formulate your distribution plan? With a good job and an upcoming marriage, you're poised to begin an exciting journey--one that will have a number of financial destinations along the way. Learn these financial planning steps and improve your personal finances. Just as the name implies, a financial plan is your blueprint for success. A revocable trust allows to you retain control of your assets and make changes at any time, but you'll lose the tax benefits since these assets are included in your estate for federal estate-tax purposes. If your financial plan ever needs to be changed, these steps can prevent you from getting stuck. But since everyone’s personal situation is unique, each financial plan will look a bit different. The way I see it, there are three things that every successful financial plan possesses: measurable written goals, a distribution plan, and a wealth transfer blueprint. Financial plans can stretch over years, months or decades, depending on the time horizon of your goals. As you live paycheck to paycheck, you keep asking yourself what is next, you don’t know what can or will happen. Here's why. A Financial Plan Helps You Achieve Your Goals . The value of writing a business plan is often debated in the entrepreneurial community. The upside is that irrevocable trusts aren't subject to estate taxes. The financial planner is one type of financial advisor, who helps companies and individuals create a program to meet long-term financial goals. Therefore, pick an advisor that closely aligns with where you are in life. Many people combine their financial plan with an investment plan, as investing is often part of what will help you save for the future. A financial plan is a must for any organization; whether it is a new start-up or a well-established firm. Budgeting is required in planning for the future projects. Look at your financial future as a whole when outlining these goals. Measurable written goals When I worked in the retail industry, one of my first lessons involved goal-setting -- specifically the SMART strategy of goal setting. The timeline of your financial plan can stretch for years, so there may not be any immediate results. Month after month of operating in the red can cut deep into your optimism. SMART stands for: The SMART strategy involves formulating clearly defined goals so you can easily measure progress. Financial plans are typically flexible too, allowing for any possible life changes or unforeseen events. All of your finances are connected, so don’t just focus on one aspect. These goals will become the driving force of your financial plan. A good financial plan is designed to put you at ease. This could encompass an extended hospital stay, a marriage, the birth of a child, a move, a new job and more. The financial plan uses current known variables to manage cash flow statement , predict future income, asset values, and withdrawal plans. Penguin Writer’s Manual. Create a short- and long-term plan to reach your financial goals. Financial advisors love to compare themselves to doctors, but I’d hope to hell that doctors don’t guess as much as financial advisors do. For example, a Roth IRA allows your money to grow completely free of taxation as long as you don't make any unqualified withdrawals before age 59-1/2 and the money you contribute stays invested for a minimum of five years. Three things all successful financial plans should have While there are multiple reasons why Americans are coming up short in the savings department, most of them can be traced back to an insufficient financial plan. Include any assets and liabilities, such as properties, investments, retirement accounts and loans. See you at the top! To me, one of the best guides you can have at a time like this is a financial plan. People who have a financial plan (“planners”) and follow it are more likely to be confident in their ability to achieve their goals and retire. A financial plan is more comprehensive and provides a road map to reach your financial goals. On the other hand, a trust  typically focuses on one primary asset (e.g., a life insurance policy) rather than the full gamut of assets that a will may cover. Stock Advisor launched in February of 2002. Speak with a financial advisor in your area if you want help creating a financial plan or you have other questions about your finances. 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