We had a successful first day of school (daycare) on Monday, so we are off to a good start. I, for one, did not handle it well, but I know Emmy will be fine and this is the best thing for her developmentally. She came home with her first art project, which was promptly placed on the fridge. I am still not positive what it is, but that’s less important, I suppose...
Let’s continue on our journey through a DIY financial plan. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
Step 1: Take Inventory
Step 2: Analyze Cash Flow
Step 3: Make a list of your goals
This is probably the hardest step in the financial planning process because it takes some thinking and imagination. Your goals can start out broad, but then it’s important to put a number and timeline with them if possible:
- Pay off $23,000 of student loan debt in 3 years
- Retire at age 65 with $1,500,000 in my 401k
- Start saving for my child’s college education this month
- Increase emergency fund to have it fully funded with 6 months’ worth of expenses
- Buy our first home in 2 years
There are a number of changes that occur over a year in one’s life, but your job is not to guess what they’ll be. You just need to plan for what YOU WOULD LIKE to occur.
Step 4: Make a plan
Once you’ve decided what you want your life to look like it’s time to make a plan to get there.
If you want to buy a home in two years; do you have the appropriate amount for your down payment? If not, a simple math problem can back you into the amount you need to be saving. Not saving enough for retirement? Decide how much more you’ll need to contribute to meet your goal. Emergency fund not at the suggested level? Add more.
You get the picture.
This is an ongoing process than can be repeated as often as you deem necessary. I, personally, have a running budget that I update monthly for my family. Next to it, I have a list of the goals that we’d like to accomplish. This way I always know where we stand from a month to month basis and can adjust accordingly.
This is a very simplistic way to create a financial plan for yourself or family. In a true comprehensive financial plan that would be created for a client, we would conduct extensive analyses spanning the main financial planning areas: Cash Flow, Investments, Retirement Planning, Insurance, Estate Planning, and Taxation. We would then provide recommendations and education that will put you in a better financial position tomorrow than you are today.
Some people think that because they do not have much in the way of assets at the moment that they cannot benefit from a financial plan. I tend to disagree. Making sure you are making the right financial decisions early can make a dramatic positive difference in the end.
Have a question? Shoot me an email I’m here to help!
Fun Fact: Peanuts aren't actually nuts. According to Merriam-Webster, a nut is only a nut if it’s “a hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell and interior kernel.” That means walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios aren't nuts either. They’re seeds.