With a tumultuous stock market, millions of Americans have realized over the last several months that there's more to financial planning than setting aside a small amount of their earnings and watching the returns pile up. To help individuals make sense of their financial needs and develop and maintain sound financial plans, CCH INCORPORATED (CCH) has launched the CCH Financial Planning Toolkitâ¢ (www.finance.cch.com).
"Financial planning is not easy. Each individual is faced with a variety of issues based on their particular circumstances, while those circumstances and needs and options are continuously changing," said Drew Snider, CCH Consumer Media Group publisher. "The CCH Financial Planning Toolkit has been developed to help consumers make smart choices in purchasing, borrowing and investing based upon their situation, to help protect their families and their net worth."
As with the CCH Business Owner's Toolkit â one of the leading web sites for small businesses â CCH Financial Planning Toolkit is a free resource for consumers that effectively takes complex detail and transforms it into user-friendly information. Additionally, CCH is licensing the content to third parties, such as financial services companies and insurance companies.
"The CCH name is highly respected among business professionals. It's a name that they've trusted for generations," said Snider. "They're confident in the quality of the information we're providing and its value in helping their clients make informed decisions."
Lifecycle Approach to Financial Planning
The CCH Financial Planning Toolkit is organized to help guide individuals through decisions that make sense at various life stages. This lifecycle approach provides the novice user with a logical place to start, while the detailed, drill-down table of contents provides more seasoned users with direct access to the particular detail they're seeking. Through more than 1,200 files, forms and tools, the key topics covered include:
- Goal Setting â covering the basics, such as why a financial plan should be developed, what to include and how to monitor your progress.
- Investments â a roadmap to understanding the different types of investment vehicles, how age and risk tolerance play a role in financial planning, and the consequences of various investments, including homeownership.
- Taxes â a definitive resource for understanding and reducing your tax obligation, including exemptions, credits and deductions; how to report investment losses and gains and how to avoid an audit.
- Insurance & Risk Management â offering a guide through the maze of different types of health, disability and life insurance policies as well as the ins and outs of annuities and the level of property, liability or business insurance individuals may require depending upon their situation.
- Retirement Planning â a comprehensive examination of why and how to start planning and saving for retirement; understanding Social Security and the retirement saving vehicles available, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, as well as non-qualified plans, including vested trusts and stock options. The site also provides a detailed discussion of special retirement planning situations, including the impact of divorce.
- Estate Planning â beyond retirement, this section details the steps to consider in passing wealth to the next generation, including why make a will and what to include as well as when to consider trusts in estate planning and how to minimize estate taxes.
Instant Access to Wealth of Planning Tools
In addition to fast access to easy-to-understand information, the CCH Financial Planning Toolkit includes more than 100 calculators and interactive toolsâall at no cost. These include calculators for retirement planning, refinancing a loan or comparing possible investments which are embedded into the editorial content, providing immediate access to the tools as well as the editorial context needed to make the most of their use.
Other tools include planning forms, such as simple wills, trusts and asset inventory sheets. Also via the site, users can access CompleteTax, CCH's acclaimed online tax preparation and electronic filing solution.
Additionally, the site includes a comprehensive, fully searchable financial planning encyclopedia and thousands of hyperlinked documents and definitions â all designed to provide users with easy navigation and fingertip access to the information they need. The site is continuously updated with the latest information and augmented by articles on consumer finance related topics written by CCH staff of business and finance professionals.