Reitenbach-Kissinger Success Institute

Change Your Destiny

Creating and Achieving Your Financial Success

To achieve financial success, there are only a few basic steps you need to reach your goals.  But it always surprises me how many people don’t use these basic steps to create financial success over their lifetime.

In fact, the majority of people tend to ignore one or more of these basic steps.  This ends up short circuiting the process of becoming financially successful.

You may be one of those people.  But hey, you weren’t born with the innate knowledge that you need to be financially successful.  None of us were.  But just the fact that you’re reading this article shows that you’re willing to learn and seek out a solution for how you can achieve financial success in your own life.

In this article I want to introduce you to some of the basic steps that I’ve been teaching and using for many years to help me and others become financially successful.

What’s Your Definition of Financial Success?

First, a word of warning: these are not tips for getting rich quickly.

Building wealth and creating financial success in your life takes time.  It’s a lifelong marathon that you have to continually work through, even when you hit a wall, which happens to all of us at one time or another.

Also, you have to know what your definition of financial success is.  Is it becoming so wealthy that your diamonds are encrusted with more diamonds?  Is it being able to have enough money to live a comfortable life in your later years?  Or maybe it’s to be independently wealthy enough so you can leave generational wealth to your family or a charitable foundation.

How you define financial success is up to you, but you must have at least some idea of the end game of what financial success means to you in order to reach that goal someday.

5 Basic Steps to Achieve Financial Success

So now that you have an idea (hopefully) of what financial success means to you, let’s take a look at the four basic steps it will take to get you there.  Of course, these are four general steps you should follow, there will be many more sub-steps involved in the process.

Step #1- Be a Goal Setter

This goes hand in hand with knowing what your definition of financial success is.  Once you know where you want to end up, you can start putting together a list of what it will take to get you there.

One of the best ways to set goals is to first write down your long term goal(s).  By long term goals, I’m talking about 5 years or longer, even up to 30-40 years out.

Once you know what those long term goals are, then you can work backwards to define several intermediate goals that will ultimately help you achieve that long term goal.  Then break down those intermediate goals into a few short term goals that allow you to achieve the intermediate ones.

This stepwise process is one of the best things you can do to achieve the financial success you’re looking for.

Step #2- Spend Less Than You Make

Spending less than you make is an extremely obvious part of achieving financial success, but it’s absolutely stunning that more people don’t recognize that fact, much less put it into practice.

I was totally shocked when I read a recent study stating that 1 in 3 adults have at least one debt that is currently in collections.

Most of those people wound up as part of that statistic because they didn’t follow this simple principle.

You might even be one of them.

That’s ok as long as you recognize the problem and start doing something about it.  We all have to start somewhere.

The two best things you can do to stop spending more than you make are:

  • Keep Track of Your Money-  Do a zero based budget so that you have a plan for every single dollar.  Use cash only to fund your life so it will be impossible to spend more than you make.
  • Get Out of Debt and Stay Out-  I preach this constantly, and it’s the primary message throughout this entire website.  Being in debt means you’re wasting money on the interest and fees that come with it.  It’s also a good indicator that you’re spending more than you make.

In Thomas Stanley’s book “The Millionaire Next Door”, Stanley’s research shows that most millionaires believe in staying out of debt, and believe that’s one of the primary reasons they are financially successful.

Step #3- Be a Giver

This one sounds counterintuitive.  However, most anyone who is blessed financially will tell you that giving is one of the best things you can do to guarantee financial success.

Giving of yourself, your finances, your resources, and your time brings the law of reciprocity into full effect in your life.  When you give, you receive more in return.  It’s a basic truth established by God at the beginning of time.  You can find it throughout the Bible, as well as most any book about wealth and success you’ll ever read.

I can tell you from the results I’ve seen in my own life, giving works!

“Give to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”  –Deuteronomy 15:10

Step #4- Invest

Becoming successful financially always involves some form of investment.  Actually, it usually takes many types of investment to achieve financial success.  I’m not only talking about investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, and businesses, which is highly important to financial success, I’m also talking about other necessary investments such as:

  • Knowledge and Skills-  Increasing your knowledge and skill set will always serve you well, and usually allow you to earn more money during your career.
  • Health-  Healthy habits allow you to have more energy, think better, and work more efficiently.   The healthier you are, the better you can attack and achieve your goals.
  • Relationships-  Investing in good relationships with your family, friends, and business associates always pays off in the long run.  When you invest in relationships your family will love you, your friends will care for you, and business people will bend over backwards to do business with you.  It’s all about connection.

Knowing that you’re on the right track and conquering challenges for funding your personal financial goals is invaluable. The process of getting there lies in the answers to these questions: How can you claim your future and achieve your retirement goals? How can you fund your next dream? Have you set clear goals for financial independence?

Step #5- Invest Financial Success Takes Work

So that’s it, it only takes 4 basic steps to achieve financial success!  Of course I don’t want to make it sound too easy.  Becoming a financial success can take a lot of time, patience, and work.

But when you fully understand the basics, then you can work hard to get a deeper understanding and achieve whatever definition of financial success that fits you the best.

Remember, Lebron, Michael, and Kareem had to learn to dribble before they became incredible basketball players.  It took them a lot of work to become the best.

And it will for you too, so get to work!

Meeting your financial goals happens through precise and diligent planning—not by chance. A customized personal financial plan can help you feel confident that you’ll achieve what you want out of life, whether it’s early retirement, funding college educations for your kids or grandkids, real estate, investment in a second home, or financing a new business venture.

To help you and your family discover and claim the future, focus on:

  • Review and evaluate your income, assets, investment portfolio, tax exposure, estate plan, and insurance
  • Establish and prioritize your financial goals and time frames for achieving them
  • Develop strategies to address financial weaknesses and build on financial strengths
  • Monitor and adjust the plan to reflect your changing goals and circumstances
  • Protect and grow your assets while reducing taxes
  • Help you create and preserve financial independence for your retirement
  • Evaluate your life insurance needs


Confidential Financial Planning Questionnaire

Please save a copy of this Questionnaire to your computer, complete it to the extent possible and, if possible, return it to us by e-mail prior to the 30-60 minute FREE introductory meeting. The documentation requested on the last page of the Questionnaire will be required to prepare a financial plan. It is at your discretion whether you wish to bring it to the initial meeting or provide it at a later date.

All information you provide is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without your consent.

Part I • Personal and Family Information

Husband Name ______________________ Wife Name ______________________

 Home Address ______________________ Home Address ______________________

City, State, Zip ______________________ City, State, Zip ______________________

 Home Phone ______________________ Home Phone ______________________

Work Phone ______________________ Work Phone ______________________

 Mobile Phone ______________________ Mobile Phone ______________________

E-Mail ______________________ E-Mail ______________________

 Birthdate ______________________ Birthdate ______________________

Children and Other Dependents



Date of Birth


Resides (City, State)

If any of your children/dependents have special needs, please add an asterisk next to his/her name.

Do you plan to have more children? __________ If yes, how many?____________

Prior Marriages

Client 1 Yes No Client 2 Yes No Have you been previously married? Do you have financial obligations to a previous spouse? Do you receive financial support from a previous spouse

Your Health

Do you have any major health issues? Are you concerned about your health? Do you exercise regularly? Does your family have a history of high blood pressure, obesity, and/or heart disease

Part II • Financial Planning Goals and Objectives

Please list your specific financial planning goals and indicate their relative importance to each of you. H = High Importance M = Medium Importance L = Low

Importance Goals

a. ________________________________________

b. ________________________________________

c. ________________________________________

d. ________________________________________

e. _______________________________________

Part III • Overview of Assets

(Please indicate the value of the following assets:) Non-Retirement Assets (indicate total # of accounts)

Owned by Husband 1 Owned by Wife 2

Jointly Owned Checking


Savings/CDs/Money Markets

Primary Home

Home 2

Stocks, Bonds and/or Mutual Funds

Employer-Provided Restricted Stock, Stock Options, and/or

Non-Qualified Plans (# of plans

Other Real Estate (# of properties _______)

Private Business Interests

Personal Property (home furnishings, jewelry, art, etc.)

Interests in Existing Trusts

Donor Advised Fund

Other Assets (_____________________________)

Retirement/Education Specific (i.e. IRAs, 401(k)s, 529(s), etc.) (indicate total # of accounts) Savings/CDs/Money Markets (#_______)

401(k)s/403(b)s/457s/Simple Plans (#_______)

Traditional IRAs/Roth IRAs/SEP IRAs (#_______)

Pension Plans (lump sum) (#_______)

529s or Other Education Accounts (#_______)

Other Assets (_____________________________)

Part IV · Overview of Liabilities (Please indicate the value of the following liabilities:)

Primary Mortgage

Other Mortgages (# of mortgages _______)

Installment Loans (i.e. autos, boats) (# of loans______)

School Loans (# of loans______)

Credit Cards (# of cards______)*

 Business Loans (# of loans______)

Other Liabilities (# of loans______)

*If you pay off all of your credit cards monthly and do not have any current balances, you do not need to include any information regarding your credit cards.

Part V • Overview of Insurance Information

Life Insurance (indicate total # of policies)

Death Benefit Cash Value

Beneficiary Policy Owner Whole/Variable/Universal Life

Term Life

Employer Sponsored

Other Insurance Coverage

 Employer Sponsored Yes No

No Employer Sponsored Yes No

Medical Insurance

Auto and Homeowners/Renters N/A N/A

Personal Umbrella Policy N/A N/A

Long-Term Care

Short-Term Disability

Long-Term Disability

Professional Liability

Part VI • Annual Income Information

Salary $__________ $__________

Bonus $__________ $__________

Commission $__________ $__________

Self-Employment Income $__________ $__________

Investment Income $__________ $__________

Other Income (source(s)______________________________) $__________ $_________

Part VII • Annual Expense Information

Living Expenses

Annual Living Expenses (an estimate of all expenses except for income taxes, education, and other irregular expenses) $_________ $_________

Education and Special Expenses. List any other special expenses including education, major home remodel, purchase of a second home, etc., that are currently occurring or that you expect to occur.

If your children are school-age and are planning to attend college, what percentage of the annual cost would you like pay for? ________

Part VIII • Retirement Planning

Are you taking full advantage of elective deferrals (401(k), 403(b), 457 plans, etc.)?

Will others be financially dependent on you after you leave your current employment?

Do you expect to receive an inheritance? Will you be eligible for a pension?

Have you estimated your annual expenses in retirement? If so, please insert the annual amount here:____________.

If you have estimated your expenses, do you have a sense of whether or not your assets/income will be sufficient to cover your expenses?

Do you plan to sell your current home once you leave your current employment?

At what age do you plan to leave your current employment?

Describe how you imagine your life after you leave your current employment?

Do you envision working in a different line of work? Full-time? Part-time?

Do you envision traveling? Volunteering? Taking classes? (For couples, if you both have different ideas of what this looks like, please make sure to document each of your thoughts.)

Part IX • Estate Planning

Please indicate if one or both of you have the following documents:

Living Trust

Other Trusts (i.e. ILITs, CRTs, GRATs)


Power of Attorney

Property Power of Attorney

Are you currently receiving income as the beneficiary of a trust?

Part X • Other Information

Are you comfortable with financial planning terms and concepts such as asset allocation, annual return, diversification, etc?

Do you read any financial planning publications/websites such as Money, Wall Street Journal, Investopedia, etc., or watch any networks/shows such as CNBC, etc.?

Have you ever been dissatisfied with the recommendations of a financial planner/advisor? If there is any other information you would like to provide, please document it below.

Part XI · Topics to Address

Please indicate which topics you would like to address in your financial plan.

Emergency fund how much and where to save

Debt – review of existing, ideas for refinancing, role of new debt

Employment benefits

Education planning – saving, funding, financial aid, child participation

Retirement savings – how much and where to save

Cash flow projections – current and future

New home purchase (primary or vacation)

Charitable giving

Social Security planning

Pension planning

Retirement income strategies

Retirement timing

Long-term care insurance needs analysis Stock options/restricted stock

Deferred compensation strategies

Retirement plan selection for self-employed or business owners

Employer or retirement investment accounts only

Multiple retirement and non-retirement investment accounts

 Review of investment proposals

Annuities Life insurance planning – currently own or considering purchase of term coverage

Life insurance planning – currently own or considering purchase of permanent coverage Auto, home, disability, and/or long term care insurance

Review of estate planning documents and asset titling and beneficiaries

 Planning for a family member with special needs

Planning for or after a major life transition

Other: ___________________________________________________

Other: ___________________________________________________

Other: __________________________________________________

Part XII • Needed Documentation

In addition to completing this questionnaire and your financial plan, the following documentation will be needed to complete your financial plan:

¨ Tax returns for the last two years;

¨ Paycheck stubs for the last three pay periods;

¨ Most recent statements for the following: o Brokerage/mutual fund accounts; o Bank/savings/money market/CD accounts; o Retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401k(s), 403b(s), pensions, deferred compensation plan (s), etc.; and o All liabilities;

¨ Documentation related to any other employer-provided incentives such as non-qualified and incentive stock options, restricted stock grants, etc.;

¨ Employment benefits information;

¨ Auto, home, life, disability, and long-term care insurance statements and/or policies;

¨ Most recent Social Security statement (You can create an account at to access current information; if you do not create an account, paper statements will be mailed to you every 5 years beginning at age 25);

¨ Completed cash flow (We can provide a template or you can provide a report from your own expense tracking system. If you do not currently track your cash flow, please be sure to provide an estimate of your annual living expenses in Part IV of this questionnaire.); and

¨ Any other relevant financial documentation

Confidential Financial Plan

How do I build a financial plan?

  • Create Your Own Financial Plan Step 1: Identify your goals Step 2: Determine your net worth Step 3: Check your cash flow Step 4: Match your goals to your spending Step 5: Review your insurance coverage Step 6: Reduce your taxes Step 7: Create an investing policy Step 8: Create or update your will Final thoughts

If you want greater financial security, you’ll need to know how to make a financial plan that works for you. The good news is that smart financial planning isn’t hard. Here are seven expert-approved steps to help you create a financial plan to get you back on track. 

Application and Analysis of the Steps to Make a Great Financial Plan

1. Have You Tracked Where Your Money Is Going?

The first – and most important – step for smart financial planning is a budget that details where your money goes (expenses/savings) and comes from (income) each month. 

Creating a personal financial plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Think of it like a monthly money guidebook by:

  • Tracking your income and expenses in a notebook
  • Using a budget template spreadsheet  and updating it weekly 
  • Finding a budgeting app that helps you automatically track your income and expenses. Some options are Mint, Wally, and Personal Capital. 

To capture every expenditure, carry on this tracking and budgeting for more than one pay period. Once you figure out your current expenses, you’ll be able to make better future financial plans. 

2. Have You Set Financial Goals for Your Future? 

Once you’re diligently tracking your income and expenses, start thinking about the future and how to meet your goals. 

Then, ask yourself this question: “Where do I want to be 10 years down the road?” Avoid generic answers like, “I want to be rich.” Answer with specifics like: 

  •  “I want to own a house with the mortgage half paid off”
  •  “I want to have an investment portfolio of $500,000”
  • “ I want a college fund for my kids.” 
  • “I want to travel to 15 countries.” 

Setting specific goals helps to stay on track with your financial plan. 

3. Have You Started Saving and Earning More Now?

After you set your personal financial planning goals, start saving for a potential personal financial crisis and then for your bigger goals. This means you’ll need to reexamine the expenses and income you’ve been tracking, then start saving in one of two ways: 

Cutting Expenses

Determine where you might be spending too much. Are you splurging on entertainment? What about your car payments, vacations, or food?

It’s important to look for ways to save, but balance is also crucial. Your goal isn’t to eliminate every fun activity but to control your spending to free up some of your income for savings. 

Increasing Your Income

You can also save more money by increasing your income. This can be done by asking for a raise, changing careers, picking up a side hustle, or taking on a second job. Just make sure that your extra income is actually being put into a savings account. 

4. Have You Built a Portfolio into Your Personal Financial Plan? 

While you save for your short-term financial goals, a longer-term financial goal should be kept in mind: retirement. This will be one of your biggest life expenses and it needs to hold a major place in your financial plan. 

Whether you cut expenses and/or increase your income, the key to investing is to do it consistently over the long term. Why not start with as little as $50 a month and then increase whenever you can?

For new and seasoned investors alike, the easiest way to build an investment portfolio is with mutual funds. You can easily find mutual funds that match your particular risk tolerance,  and they’re great to spread out your investment risk. Mutual funds also provide professional money management – and that’s a great idea if you don’t have the time (or expertise) to go it alone.

5. Have You Created a Financial Plan Exit?

You’ll want to plan an exit strategy to match every savings and investment goal in your financial plan. An exit strategy has two components: how you allocate money and how you can access that money. 

Say that you want to buy a home within ten years. You’ll probably need to allocate less money towards your investment portfolio and save more money in a short-term account (like a money market account).  When it comes time to purchase your home, make sure that it’s easy to withdraw your down payment money. Be sure to investigate the fees and withdrawal penalties of your account. 

Similarly, if you’re going to require money for your children’s education or even your retirement, be sure to have an exit strategy.Consider an estate plan for your heirs, too. 

6. Are You Keeping an Eye on Your Credit?

Good credit is essential for finding the best interest rates for financing as well as the best credit card offers. 

 You’ll need to check on your credit score with each of the three big credit agencies: 

  • TransUnion 
  • Experian 
  • Equifax 

You can get a free copy of these official reports once per year at Make sure that there are no discrepancies between your records and the credit reports. If there are errors, dispute them with the agency reporting them. 

You can also keep track of your credit score during the year with websites like CreditKarma. If you notice a change in the score, it’s an indicator that something has changed with the accounts under your name (e.g. addition of a credit card, paying off a loan). 

7. Are You Keeping Track of Your Financial Plan?

The financial planning steps listed above aren’t a “one-and-done” kind of system. You always need to keep tabs on your personal finances. 

  • Have your goals changed? 
  • Has your income or debt gone up or down? 
  • What are your current family needs and health? 
  • How have your investments performed? 

Depending on the circumstances, it may make sense to review your financial plan quarterly.  When you do so, don’t confuse your long-term goals (retirement) with short-term ups and downs in your personal life. More simply, don’t change your financial plan without looking at the entire picture. 

REMEMBER: The information you provide is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without your consent.

Michael Kissinger

Sydney Reitenbach

Phone: 650-515-7545


Phone: 650-515-7545 — Email: mjkkissinger@mjkkissinger



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