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How To Master Financial Planning During Major Life Stages

Bhuvanaa Shreeram
Bhuvanaa Shreeram Co Founder, House of Alpha.Member of 1 Finance Advisory Committee, Mumbai Chapter

28 March 2024 4 min read
How To Master Financial Planning During Major Life Stages
Financial planning

Life’s transitions are pivotal moments that shape our journey, affecting both our financial well-being and emotional health. All transitions go through 4 stages: anticipation, ending, passage, and the new normal. This understanding provides a framework for going through these changes with awareness, resilience and foresight. This article explores these stages in-depth, offering insights into managing the financial and emotional complexities of each phase with careful financial planning.

The Four Stages of Transition


  • The Anticipation stage involves the foresight or expectation of a significant life event. Financially, this stage is about preparation and planning. Emotionally, it can range from excitement to anxiety, as individuals consider the implications of upcoming changes.


  • The ending stage marks the conclusion of a particular chapter in life. This phase is often characterized by loss and the need for closure. Financially, it may involve the redistribution of assets, the adjustment of financial plans, and the re-evaluation of goals. Emotionally, it can be a period of grief, reflection, and acceptance.


  • The passage stage is a transitional period where individuals adjust to their new reality. Speaking in terms of financial planning, this might involve living with a new budget, adapting to changes in income, or navigating the financial aspects of a new role or identity. Emotionally, this stage is about exploration, healing, and beginning to look forward.

New Normal

  • The New Normal stage is reached when individuals have fully integrated the changes into their lives. Speaking in terms of financial planning, stability is regained, and new financial plans are in place. Emotionally, there is a sense of renewal and the establishment of a new sense of normalcy.

Life is a series of transitions

It is estimated that on average, we all go through about 60 transitions in our lifetime, including job changes, moving cities, losing parents, etc. Some of the key transitions that have the most emotional and financial impact are discussed below.

Marriage: Uniting Financial Lives

Marriage not only unites two lives but also two financial histories and futures. Couples should engage in open and honest conversations about their financial goals, debts, and attitudes toward spending and saving. Being prudent about financial planning, creating a joint budget, deciding whether to merge bank accounts and setting long-term financial goals are pivotal steps. Establishing an emergency fund and considering life insurance can provide security as new families start their journey together.

Divorce: Separating with Financial Acumen

Divorce requires meticulous attention to the division of assets, debts, and retirement funds. It’s essential to update your approach to financial planning and align with your new status, focusing on rebuilding emergency savings, revising your budget, and adjusting retirement planning. Hiring a financial advisor specializing in divorce can ensure that you navigate this transition with a strategy that safeguards your financial future.

Empty Nest: Refocusing Financial Goals

The departure of children from the home marks a transition that can lead to significant changes in your financial planning. This period offers an opportunity to increase retirement savings, downsize living spaces, and reevaluate life insurance needs. Empty nesters should consider revisiting their investment strategies and estate plans to align with their new circumstances and priorities.

Retirement: Planning for a New Chapter

Retirement planning is a multifaceted process of financial planning that should begin well before the transition occurs. Determining your retirement lifestyle and the necessary income to support it is critical. A comprehensive approach includes budgeting for healthcare, understanding Social Security benefits, managing withdrawal rates from retirement accounts, and considering part-time work or hobbies that can generate income. Continuous financial education and consultation with a financial advisor can ensure a retirement strategy that is both fulfilling and sustainable.

Death of a Spouse: Navigating Financial Changes with Compassion

The death of a spouse is not only an emotional crisis but also a financial one. The surviving spouse must handle immediate financial tasks while planning for the long term. Key steps include claiming life insurance benefits, reviewing and adjusting financial plans, and possibly restructuring investments. It’s important to allow oneself time to grieve before making significant financial decisions and to seek the support of a financial advisor specialized in bereavement.

Creating a New Normal: The Role of Financial Triage and the Decision-Free Zone

In each of these transitions, employing a financial triage system and establishing a Decision-Free Zone (DFZ) can be invaluable. Financial triage helps prioritize immediate financial concerns, ensuring stability during turbulent times. The DFZ allows individuals to take a step back from making non-essential decisions, providing space to evaluate options and focus on immediate needs without the pressure of long-term planning.


Life’s transitions are complex and multifaceted part of financial planning, impacting every aspect of our lives. Understanding the four stages of transition provides a valuable framework for navigating these changes with greater awareness and preparedness. Financially and emotionally, transitions offer opportunities for growth, learning, and new beginnings. By approaching each phase with thoughtfulness and resilience, individuals can navigate life’s transitions with confidence, ultimately finding stability and fulfilment in their new normal.

Please note,

The views in the article /blog are personal and that of the author. The idea is to create awareness and not intended to provide any product recommendations.


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