Financial planning differs from generation to generation. Advice and planning will be different for your 60-year-old parents who are getting ready to retire versus Millennials (you if you’re reading this) that are really hitting their stride in their professional lives, while often also trying to balance the new challenges of homeownership and possibly starting a family.
Hopefully at this point you’ve recognized the importance of having sound financial habits and are working towards not just short-term goals, but also thinking long term. However, it can be difficult, confusing, and incredibly hard to make good decisions on a consistent basis.
5 key points to consider when thinking about your own financial plan:
Get on the same page
If you’re in a relationship, arguably the most important step in becoming financially successful is being on the same page with your significant other. And if you’re not in a relationship, you need to get on the same page with your values and what’s important to you.
Focusing on the relationship, here’s my favorite analogy why: If you’re rowing in a kayak together and one person isn’t rowing as fast as the other person, or worse, not rowing at all, it doesn’t matter how hard the other person is rowing, you’re going to be rowing in a circle and won’t ever reach your destination.
You need to be on the same page with your significant other when it comes to the finances. There’s no other way to do it. It should be an ongoing conversation, you need to place an importance on it, and you need to have joint goals. It’s hard and sometimes challenging to get on the same page but it’s necessary. Make it a regular occurrence where you communicate about finances. Whether it be a date night once a month, or on long car trips, make it happen. I’ve even come across couples that can only talk about money while having a glass (or two) of wine. Whatever it takes!..
Keep it simple
Too many get bogged down and don’t make any progress because they make things complicated. Multiple credit cards, an overcomplicated investment portfolio, an exhausting budget and spending plan that takes 6 hours to update once a month..
It doesn’t need to be overcomplicated.
- Keep the budget and spending plan simple.
- Know where your dollars are being spent and saved.
- Use minimal accounts
- Automate wherever you can
Make it as easy as you can on yourself to be successful!
Focus on the Process – Not the end goal
It’s hard to think about retirement when you’re 20-30 years away. How can you when you don’t even know what you’re going to have for dinner tomorrow night?
It’s hard to plan for the long-long term. Focus on the habits and the process and the end goal will take care of itself:
- Focus on your savings rate
- Determine your risk level and asset allocation and stick with it!
- Focus on paying off high interest debt
- Use other types of debt in a strategic way.
- Save your dollars in the right accounts.
- Lock in the right insurance now to protect against any big setbacks.
If you’re doing the right things and putting in the work, you have a great chance of achieving your end goal!
Keep an eye on debt
Notice I didn’t say “Avoid debt at all costs”, because debt has a place in most people’s financial picture. Make sure you use debt strategically and not over leverage yourself. Know the difference between high and low interest debt and pay off accordingly.
To go along with this, use credit cards to your advantage. Again, some say to not use credit cards at all, but a lot of cards give you some pretty nice perks and rewards if used correctly. It will also help build up your credit score for future debt you may take on.
Keep an eye on your debt, automate payments where you can, and don’t over leverage.
Save, save, save
When you don’t know what to do next, save your dollars! For any successful financial plan to work, you need to be saving (and investing) your dollars. Money markets, brokerage accounts, IRA’s, 401(k)’s, Roth accounts etc.
Consider a mix between liquid assets and retirement assets as you will likely have both short and long-term goals.
However, beware of lifestyle creep as your income goes up and create great spending habits. You don’t have to “Keep up with the Jonses”. They most likely aren’t as wealthy as you think they are..
Oh, but don’t save too much.. Make sure you’re living life and spending your money on experiences as well as things that make you and your family happy. Life is for living. Just make sure you’ve also got your savings in order!
There you have it! 5 key ways for you to enable success on your financial journey. Hopefully this helped you think about your plan and think about ways to update and improve or reaffirm the right habits that you have already created.
If you are off track and need some guidance, or just want to solidify your position even more, feel free to reach out to me. My information is below.