We all have big dreams and goals for our lives, our family, and our career, but those dreams are just wishful thinking without a plan to accomplish them. The same is true for our financial goals; we need a concrete set of steps and milestones to work toward.
The best way to accomplish this is through a personal financial plan, which is a roadmap for an individual or family to reach their goals. It takes into account your current financial situation, values, and hopes for the future, and then creates a detailed strategy. Once the financial plan is done, you can use it to guide you as you make decisions about where to spend your money and how much to save.
Although creating a personal financial plan might seem like a time-intensive process, it can actually be a great way to connect with your family, share your goals and hopes, and align your efforts toward the same vision for the future.
Define your goals and values
We like to say that our team is all about empowering hard-working people to enjoy the moments that matter most.
The goal- and vision-setting step of creating your financial plan should be about identifying what matters most to you and your family. Ask yourself:
What do I hope to accomplish?
Are there special moments I want to prepare for?
How do I want to share my wealth with my family and community?
Whether your goals include sending your children to college, enjoying a fulfilling retirement, being debt-free, or spending more time with your family, use them to motivate you to continue with your personal financial plan.
However, make sure to balance these goals with practical safeguards, such as building an emergency fund so an emergency doesn’t become a financial disaster.
Capture your current financial situation
Be honest with yourself and document your current debts, your retirement and personal savings balances and trends, and how you think these will look in the future.
Use these balances and notes to establish your current financial situation so you can track your progress and refine your goals as you move forward.
Develop a method to track your money
Once you have your goals defined and your financial situation documented, it is time to develop a method that you will consistently use to track your income and expenses as well as your progress toward achieving your goals.
There are plenty of free online resources and mobile apps available that can link directly to your accounts so you can automatically monitor your spending and visually see your performance.
Maximize your income and contributions
Identify ways to maximize your income by asking for a raise, improving your skills, or starting a side business. At the same time, identify ways to decrease your spending and expenses.
Finally, take advantage of the financial programs available to you that can help you reach your goals, such as employer-sponsored retirement plans or 529 college savings plans. You can also look into delaying your Social Security withdrawal date.
Stick with it
Last but not least, keep your goals and your plan in a safe but easy-to-see location so you can keep yourself focused and motivated.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.
Garrett German offers products and services using the following business names: Harvest Wealth Group—insurance and financial services | Ameritas Investment Company, LLC (AIC), Member FINRA/SIPC—securities and investments | Ameritas Advisory Services (AAS)—investment advisory services. AIC and AAS are not affiliated with Harvest Wealth Group.