What are your financial planning goals? You always hear about the financial planning process. Most of my generation, the Gen X/Gen Y crew, don’t even think about financial planning because it is so far away and there’s more important things, say like American Idol. <gasp> I can’t stress how important it is to start thinking about it today. (No, not who’s getting kicked of this week. Financial planning silly.)
If you are in your 40s or 50s and you haven’t done it yet, it’s not too late for you. You still have time to plan. I think a lot of people just don’t know how to get started. I would have you look at it in three different phases to help you try to determine what your financial planning goals are. It’s very similar to planning normal goals that you have in your life whether that be career, family, personal, etc.
Really Looking Out
I think the first thing you’ll want to figure out, and this is where you really have to have the onward approach, is what are your lifetime goals.
What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime when it comes to financial planning?
- Do you want to retire early? Is it at 50, 55, or 60?
- Do you want to be able to have a vacation home in Florida, California, or overseas?
- Do you want to travel to new countries when you want?
- Do you want to try out a second career?
Just start asking yourself some of these questions. I know that’s tough because if you’re young how can you really think that far ahead?
Even for me it was tough to try to think, “Okay, what do I what to do 30 years from now?” At first, it was hard, but now I have an idea: I do want to have a summer home in Florida or some coastal area. I know I’m 33 years of age and I feel weird saying that now because I never thought I would be that “Florida-retired couple“, but I tell you what, living in the Midwest and having some of the cold winters that we’ve had, I do envision and like the idea of having some warm weather in my year. I know that that will be one aspect that I want to do with my retired life.
I also want to be able to have the flexibility to travel, to hang out with my kids or grand-kids if they don’t live close. I want to be able to be nimble to do that. I am fortunate in my career to where I may never retire. I love financial planning. I love helping people and I know, I believe that I will always be doing that the rest of my life, so I’m okay with that. Those are some of my lifetime financial planning goals.
Whenever I was initially asked that question it was really hard for me to sit down and put that down on paper. It took me some time, but I finally was able to write them down and to really see what I truly wanted to accomplish in my lifetime was very helpful and rewarding.
Third Times a Charm
From the lifetime goals, we start looking at it in shorter increments to where do you want to be in the next three years. This one should be easier. When you start thinking about financial planning and certain events that could occur in the next three years, think of the following:
- It could be your career; do you want to be in the same job?
- Are you planning on having an advancement in your career or business?
- Do you want to have a certain amount saved in your saving account?
- Maybe you’re trying to get your emergency fund where you want it to be or you only have so many dollars invested in your 401K.
- Maybe it’s to have maxed out your Roth IRAs over the next three years.
- Perhaps it’s more the fact that you’ve got some kids and you want to start saving for your kids’ college.
Try to put down on paper what you plan on trying to accomplish in the next three years. Based on where you’re at right now this should be a lot easier for you, unless you’ve got a job where maybe there’s a lot of uncertainty there. If everything holds true to where you’re at right now where do you envision you’ll be in the next three years? That should help you put things in better perspective, better focus on what your plans could be.
It’s Only 90 Days
Then, we break it down even more so to where you can look at it in the next year or with the new Strategic Coaching program that I am a part of they have you look at it in 90-day blocks, so in the next 90 days what are some of the financial goals that you’d want to accomplish. Some examples with that could be starting to put money in a 401K or Roth IRA if you haven’t been started yet. If you have already saved or started saving a 401K and, let’s say for example you are putting 10% away, maybe your goal over the next quarter is to increase that to 11% or 12%. Maybe if you’re putting away $100 a month into your Roth IRA, and you want to increase that to $150 a month, that could be your next quarterly goal. Then, every 90 days you reevaluate to see how that has affected your financial life. By increasing those percentages, did you see a drastic drop in your disposable income per month? Could you still pay the bills? Could you still eat out as much as you’d like to? Were you able to still go to the movies and have some fun like everyone should? If the answer to all those questions is yes then you know that everything worked out well and that gives you the ability to reevaluate after that 90-day stretch and then potentially make some changes. So maybe it’s increasing it more or maybe it’s setting up another account to save for a business opportunity, anything for that matter.
The cool thing is that you’ve got this track record, this progress report of seeing how you’re doing every 90 days and to evaluate if everything is going good. There are many, many different ways that you can look at it. That was just one aspect I wanted to show you because I know for a lot of younger people it’s hard to envision doing financial planning goals and having this long stretched out view of where you’re going to be 30 or 40 years from now, but if you start breaking it down into those chunks it can help you to better assess where you’re at today to be able to make some changes today that will affect you and get you where you want to be 30 years from now.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.