In a prior post I talked about my love of fiction writing. It’s not something I’ve tackled lately even though I have a few ideas percolating. I mentioned reading that Hemmingway never stopped writing unless he knew where to begin the next day. That was a breakthrough concept for me as in the past I’d just write with no outline and no idea where I’d go next. It’s how I’ve ended up with far too many partially finished ideas. An outline was needed to guide me from start to middle to end. I always knew when I stopped where to pick up the next day providing me with much needed guidance, so I was never lost.
This, as mentioned in a prior post, applies to creating a financial plan.
With no outline to guide you, how can you know what to do next?
It makes it all that much harder to achieve your financial goals if you have no plan in place.
Keeping your financial goals simple is a good way to go when starting out. You can always add, delete, or change them along the way.
Financial goals are the main component of the financial plan. Without those goals, you have a plan with nothing to achieve. It’s kind of like a movie with no plot. Having achievable goals, whether they are short term or long-term, is what drives the plan keeping you invested along the way. Without those goals it’s easy to lose interest and just stop. At the same time, you don’t need to overcomplicate your goals. Keeping it simple is a good way to go when starting out. You can always add, delete, or change them along the way.
So, let’s dive into creating financial goals.
Step 1: What do you want and why?
The first thing to consider is what you want to do and why. What you want to do is important as that’ll be the driving force. Think about what matters to you at this stage in your life.
Are you looking to make your paycheck work for you or vice versa?
Are you going for something straightforward like creating a budget?
Perhaps your goal is concise such as buying a car, a house, frequent travel, or visiting local breweries every weekend. if it’s important to you, it is never mundane.
Everyone is different. Therefore, their goals won’t always be alike.
Step 2: Target Date
This means when do you hope to achieve your financial goals – in the short term or long term?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. You may consider buying a new car a short term while your neighbor would consider it a long-term goal.
Focus on your list of goals, sorting them from most important to least. You’ll discover which ones are attainable right now and which ones will require patience, dedication and perseverance to make happen.
Step 3: Cash Flow & Budget
You need to know how and where your money is being spent. This will tell you what you need to change and/or adjust to make your goals happen.
Don’t fret if you realize not all your goals will be attainable. Instead focus on the most important short- and long-term goals. Save the rest for future additions to your plan.
After that, review your cash flow and budget to see what steps you need to take to hit your goals. This could be cutting expenses across the multiple categories, then taking those savings, and applying them to your different goals. Just don’t be afraid to completely redo your budget.
Remember, as we move through life our goals and desires change. What was a goal at 28 may not be the same at 48. That desire to visit a brewery every weekend could change once kids enter the picture. You may find rather than traveling frequently you’d prefer to update/upgrade your home.
Review your goals at least once a year.
Don’t be surprised if over time you find the important financial goals start moving down the list until they disappear altogether. You should be willing to adapt, adjust, and change your financial goals as you get older.
In the end, creating your goals isn’t difficult. Chances are you already have them in the back of your head. You just need to make the time to commit them to paper. Once you do that your goals can be attainable.