Clay Budach, CFP®

Clay is a Wealth Management Advisor for Custom Wealth Planners. Clay enjoys writing on topics of retirement planning, taxes, and industry related news. Learn more about Clay here.


The journey of defining investment and financial success encompasses various levels of understanding and practical application. Initially, success is often measured by portfolio growth and comparison to peers’ net worth or arbitrary retirement targets. As individuals progress, they may begin benchmarking against market indices, such as the SP500 Index (the 500 largest companies in the USA).

With advisor guidance, diversification becomes pivotal, leading to a blended benchmark incorporating various indexes and complex metrics. However, fixation on these benchmarks alone can lead to unforeseen failures, such as running out of money or leaving too much behind.

This is where the financial plan emerges as a crucial tool. Unlike traditional benchmarks, the financial plan is meticulously crafted to align with each individual’s unique long-term aspirations, transcending generic rules of thumb. It integrates personal goals with financial strategies, projecting both short and long-term consequences to ensure sustainability. Grounded in logic and mathematics, these projections provide clarity in navigating the ever-changing landscape of finances. 

Collaborating with a financial planner adds depth to this process. Financial planners offer personalized guidance tailored to individual needs, helping to sidestep common financial pitfalls and empowering informed decision-making. Through this partnership, individuals can confidently navigate their financial journey toward security and abundance.

Foundational Elements of Long-Term Financial Planning Projections:

Long-term financial planning projections are built upon organization and foresight. By meticulously cataloging assets, liabilities, income sources, and associated tax implications, individuals gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial landscape. These projections provide clarity on current and future financial scenarios, empowering informed decision-making and strategic maneuvering.

Building the balance sheet:

In the below example I put together a sample client “Gary & Janice” that represents a typical clientel we serve. By building out the balance sheet we are able to help keep the client organzied as well make sure all pieces of the balance sheet are operating efficiently and in tandem. 

Exploring Cash Flows and Tax Optimization:

Delving deeper, we analyze cash flows, including current incomes and anticipated future streams, such as pensions or social security. By examining assets’ growth potential and tax implications, we devise strategies to mitigate financial burdens like inflation and taxes. Prioritizing tax efficiency across an individual’s lifetime ensures optimized financial outcomes.

Depending on the type of savings bucket used in retirement distribution or accumulation there is a short and long-term impact of taxes. Looking at a year-by-year tax cashflow analysis allows us to make decisions like which savings bucket to use now but also which buckets to distribute out of so we can recognize income in the most tax-efficient way. We can identify long-term problems such as required minimum distributions pushing us into higher and higher marginal tax brackets and implement strategies such as Roth conversions to tamper the burden earlier on.

Long-term Portfolio Expectations

Being able to look at the investment portfolio and see how we would expect it to behave on average across the life of the plan allows us to frame up some key decisions today. Clients often are faced with different trade-offs that we can model and see if the plan can absorb them or how they improve an already good-looking plan. Some of these different levers we pull are around retirement dates, spending levels, portfolio returns, or larger one-off expenses.

Key Decisions and Trade-Offs:

Long-term financial planning projections inform a multitude of decisions, each with its own set of trade-offs. Whether optimizing social security benefits, embracing early retirement, or funding one-time expenses, these decisions sculpt one’s financial future. While some choices prioritize immediate enjoyment, others focus on long-term wealth preservation, striking a delicate balance between present fulfillment and future security is key.

Integration of Financial and Investment Planning:

Financial and investment planning are intertwined, with asset allocation tailored to individual goals and realities. Long-term financial planning projections guide the construction of portfolios aligned with personal aspirations, ensuring financial strategies resonate with individual needs.

The Value of Ongoing Advisor Engagement:

Financial planning instills confidence and purpose, steering individuals toward empowered decision-making. Through continuous plan updates and proactive adjustments, individuals navigate their financial journey with clarity and conviction. This ongoing engagement ensures financial plans remain agile and effective in achieving long-term goals. Sustained collaboration with a financial advisor offers invaluable support and continuity. Beyond delegating financial decisions, ongoing engagement provides an intellectual sparring partner, offering guidance during tumultuous times. By fostering a partnership rooted in trust and transparency, individuals navigate financial complexities with assurance and peace of mind.

Maximizing Advisor Engagement:

Selecting the right financial advisor is paramount to maximizing engagement benefits. Prioritize advisors with a deep understanding of your unique circumstances and frequent experience addressing similar challenges. Establish open communication from the outset, fostering a relationship built on mutual respect and shared objectives.


Long-term financial planning projections serve as indispensable tools in achieving financial success and well-being. Embracing the guidance of a financial planner and committing to the planning process enables individuals to unlock a future defined by prosperity, security, and contentment.

Interested in learning more? View how we work here. 

Welcome to Custom Wealth Planning’s blog where founders Travis & Clay share their thoughts on topics that cover Money, Mindfulness, & History.

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