Build your own financial plan - a challenge and an offer

PLEASE NOTE: THE FINANCIAL WARRANT OF FITNESS (FINANCIAL WOF) SERVICE IS NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. (ARTICLE UPDATED 11 APRIL 2018.)

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Do you have a written financial plan?

If so, good work! Is it up to date? Does it reflect your current circumstances, needs, and objectives? Is it in line with your values and priorities in life? If so, skip ahead to my offer. 

If you don't have a written financial plan, I have a challenge for you.

My challenge to you: Prepare a written financial plan. 

My challenge to you is to make a financial plan, and put it in writing. 

Do the following:

  • Create a balance sheet, and get a consolidated snapshot of your assets and your liabilities. Put in writing your current investment portfolio and your KiwiSaver (making sure to note the provider and the investment option within each product).
  • Create a spreadsheet, and think about where you might end up in the long-term future if you continue on your current trajectory, while making appropriate adjustments (for example, if you're a student, have young children, or are about to retire). 
  • Get a clear idea of how you're actually spending your money. How much do you put towards building wealth each year? (This can include repaying principal on your mortgage, as well as building investment assets inside and outside of KiwiSaver.) 
  • Work out, and write down, all of the types of insurance you have, and details such as what they cover, what level of cover they provide, and how much you're paying in premiums. 
  • Think about what you want to achieve, and what you don't want to happen. (It might be easier to think in terms of "best guesses" rather than goals, given that these things can change over time.)
  • Write down what you know about your succession and structure arrangements. For example, whether you have a will and enduring power of attorney documents; whether you have a trust, and basic characteristics of the trust (such as who the trustees are, who the beneficiaries are, who has the power to add and remove trustees, and what assets are held by the trust). 

Then reflect on your situation:

  • Are your financial affairs in line with your personal values and priorities, and what you actually want out of life? Is there harmony or is there a mismatch? 
  • Are you saving enough? Or are you saving too much? (In which case, could you spend more, give more, change your work arrangements, or aim to retire earlier?)
  • Is your KiwiSaver invested appropriately? Who do you want your KiwiSaver funds to be managed by, and what investment option is suitable for you? 
  • Are you investing appropriately? Are you diversified, or are all of your eggs in one basket? If you needed to access funds, do you have assets that can be transferred into cash quickly enough? What changes do you think are suitable, in light of your circumstances, needs, and objectives? 
  • If appropriate, think about how home ownership fits into your overall plan.
  • Do you have appropriate types and levels of insurance? Should you increase your insurance levels, or decrease them? 
  • What are some of the risks associated with your current position? What could happen that might stop you from getting where you want to go? How can you manage these? (Don't just think about financial matters. For example, think about health and your relationships with friends and family.) 
  • If you don't have wills or enduring power of attorney documents, consider whether you need them. If you have them, consider if they're still in line with what you want to happen if something were to happen to you. If you have a trust, consider whether it's still appropriate to have a trust, and/or whether the terms of the trust are still suitable. 

Write down anything else that you think is appropriate.

(If you need help with building the plan, sign up to my mailing list and receive the 13-part email course, Build Your Own Financial Plan.)

Keep this plan somewhere, and go back to it occasionally. Things will change over time and you can update it accordingly.

Remember, it's not the actual plan you've prepared that's important. It's the process of planning. 

MY LIMITED-TIME OFFER: I'll provide your plan a "warrant of fitness" for $299.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS OFFER IS NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. (UPDATED 11 APRIL 2018.)

If you make a good effort of documenting your own financial plan and provide it to me, I'll review it, and provide feedback and recommendations. Consider it a "financial WOF".

I'll do this for a fixed fee of $299 including GST. (I'll do this in my capacity as an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA), through my business Fairhaven Wealth.)

I'll discuss your plan with you in person (if you're in Christchurch) or over the phone or electronically. I'll also provide written feedback. I may need to go back and forth with you a little to clarify and expand on some of the information you've provided.

For personalised advice from an AFA, that's as cheap as you'll ever get. My fees are already exceptionally low compared to other AFAs as they are - especially in light of the fact I'm independent and not affiliated with any product issuers. 

But I still want to make my fees cheaper! And by outsourcing a lot of the time and work involved with documenting a report to you, I can do this. (As an AFA I need to document my advice, the reasons for the advice, and risks associated with that advice. I will be incorporating the work you have done so I can do this time- and cost-effectively.) 

This offer is open exclusively to Kiwis. The offer WILL change and I reserve the right to remove it at any time. Additional conditions apply. If you want to take advantage of this offer, let me know right away by emailing sonnie@fairhavenwealth.co.nz or calling me to discuss on 021 0269 2213. You can do this even if you haven't yet finished documenting your financial plan.

For more information, check out www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz/financial-wof.

(I'm an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA). A disclosure statement is available on request and free of charge.) 


If you subscribe to the NZ Wealth & Risk mailing list, you receive a series of emails that explain how to build your own financial plan. Each week or so for a period of three months, you receive a new email which covers something specific for you to consider. 

You're encouraged to:

  • Get a clear idea of what your current situation is. Specifically, prepare a personal balance sheet. 
  • Work out what your current long-term trajectory is. This involves making some forecasts (or more specifically, flawcasts) about the future based on a number of assumptions. This will give you some perspective as to whether you're on the right track, or whether you need to make changes. It also provides some insight into the things that you can tweak to improve your outcomes and how significant these changes can be. 
  • Explore what you want to achieve, from a financial and lifestyle perspective - and what you don't want to happen.
  • Investigate how you currently spend your money, being especially mindful of the "fixed" costs you incur, month after month.

After doing this, the course talks about some specific topics. For example:

  • KiwiSaver. It's amazing how three basic things can have a huge impact on your retirement outcomes. 
  • Investing, especially in financial assets.
  • How home ownership fits into your personal financial plan. 

The course then covers insurance, or more specifically - personal risk management.

  • It covers insurance, and how it fits in with personal risk management more broadly.
  • It talks about specific types of personal insurance, such as life insurance, income protection insurance, total and permanent disability insurance, and trauma insurance, and considerations that influence whether these are suitable for you.
  • It then discusses risks that can't be insured against, but can be managed. A prime example is career risk.

The course also covers some other topics, including succession and structure (wills, enduring power of attorneys, trusts, etc). 

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll be aware that this course addresses many of the themes I return to again and again in my articles. 

It also addresses most of the things I consider when I speak with a client and provide personalised advice to them.

If you're not signed up to the mailing list, I recommend signing up. You'll receive this series of emails, and access to a PDF version of my book, WEALTH: Simple Tips for Savvy Kiwis


Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is the founder and principal of Fairhaven Wealth.

Before founding Fairhaven Wealth, Sonnie worked in the legal and financial services industries for over a decade.

Sonnie first became involved with financial advice as a specialist financial services lawyer. For many years, he was an “adviser of advisers”, reviewing thousands of advice files prepared by hundreds of financial advisers, and providing feedback in relation to the quality and appropriateness of advice; industry best practice; risk management; and regulatory compliance. He has published work in industry publications and spoken at various financial advice conferences.

Sonnie has also worked with banks, investment management firms, insurers, and derivatives providers.

Sonnie has worked as a private client lawyer, focusing on succession, estate planning and trusts. He ran his own legal firm in Australia before relocating to New Zealand. He has also acted in independent trustee and company director positions.

Sonnie is passionate about helping people achieve their goals and manage the risks to which they are exposed.

He has written extensively on his blog, New Zealand Wealth and Risk, which can be found at www.wealthandrisk.nz.

Sonnie is married to his wonderful wife Chrissy, and has two young children, Ben and Anna.