13 Oct Tricks and Treats for Financial Planning Month
Did you know October is Financial Planning Month? With holiday shopping on the horizon and a new year with new resolutions right behind it, there’s no better time to invest in your financial literacy. Working on a few key strategies right now is a great way to keep your goals on track through the hustle and bustle of the holidays and into the future. We know how easy it is to get sidetracked when you’re busy, the gift list is long, or life throws a few curveballs your way. But you can set realistic financial goals and stay the course, no matter what the economy does, with these tips.
Top Tricks for Goal Planning
Have you ever set a goal with the best intentions, only to find yourself petering out before you cross the finish line? Like most forgotten New Year’s resolutions, some of the main reasons why people fail to meet their financial goals are because they set unrealistic goals in the first place and they don’t create a plan.
Q: There are a lot of things I want to save up for and accomplish, plus I want to have a great retirement! How do I do it all?
Sometimes, what hinders us from accomplishing our goals is not stopping to figure out exactly what those goals are. Sure, you want to be able to afford vacations with family, help your kids go to college, and retire to your happy place. But what exactly does that mean? Do you want to take your child to their dream destination as a high school graduation gift, or do you want to save up for a Disneyland trip with your future grandkids? How long do you have to save for those goals, and which ones are the top priority? Taking time to clarify your goals is the first step to reaching them. Our goal-planning questionnaire is a great way to help you work out the details of what you value most. And let’s not forget that a happy retirement looks different for everyone! If you have trouble envisioning your ideal retirement, get in touch with your inner child and the passions that make you come alive through a dream book. Reflect on what you find most fulfilling in life so you can start planning for a retirement that makes you happy.
Q: How do I know if my goals are financially realistic?
Knowing your goals is one thing, but knowing how much to save in order to reach those goals is another. You’ll need to bust out the calculator and crunch some numbers to find out how much to save and how much your current expenses are. Once you have the numbers, it’s time to work on your budget and see how it all fits together. We have software as part of our Goal Plan Process that allows us to formulate your probability of success throughout different scenarios. You can learn more about how we help our clients hit those milestones here.
Q: How do I stay on track to meet my goals?
This is where the rubber meets the road! A helpful way to keep any type of goal on track is to break it down using the SMART strategy: Is it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound?
Specific: If you worked through our goal-planning questionnaire and dream book exercise, you’ve got this one on lock!
Measurable: Financial goals are pretty easy to measure since they’re based on a numeric amount. But you can make it even easier to stay on track by measuring your progress with a spreadsheet, an app, or regular progress reporting. Use whatever works for you.
Achievable: This goes back to budgeting and working with a financial planner. Remember, those big goals might seem out of reach at first but don’t underestimate the power of having a plan and the patience to see it through over time.
Relevant: Do your goals align with what makes you feel happy, inspired, or fulfilled? It’s easy to play the comparison game, especially when it comes to finances, but it’s a lot easier to fall off the bandwagon if you’re working toward a goal just because you think you should be, not necessarily because it’s something you want. Keep a sharp eye on how you’re being influenced by comparison culture, and evaluate your desires and successes by what is meaningful to you.
Time-bound: It’s a lot easier to measure your progress and stay on track when you have a deadline. When do you want to pay off your house? At what age do you want to retire? Knowing where the finish line is helps you find the right strategy and stay motivated.
Treat Yourself to Financial Confidence
You’ve got a great plan, but what if we hit a recession? What if inflation keeps rising and the market doesn’t recover right away? Real life doesn’t always go according to plan, but that doesn’t have to mean scrapping your goals.
Feel your emotions, but don’t let them run the show. It’s okay to feel worried, but fear has a way of making us rush into decisions. If you think you need to reevaluate your financial plan, talk to your advisor! We’re here to help you stay objective and guide you toward the choices most likely to help you reach your goals. Navigating these situations is what we do!
It’s normal for the market to fluctuate. Investing is a long-term process, not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you’re worried, ask your advisor how your portfolio is diversified to help you navigate shifts in the market and how that diversification fits your risk tolerance.
You can plan ahead for the unexpected. Setting up an emergency fund is one of the best ways to keep your savings safe, avoid incurring debt, and keep your goals on track. We call the emergency fund Bucket #1. To find out if you have enough in your emergency fund, click here. If you lose your job or have a sudden influx in expenses, being able to fall back on your emergency fund can take a lot of stress out of a stressful situation.
Slow and steady still makes a difference. If you do have to reallocate some funds, that doesn’t mean your dreams have to go down the drain. Even increasing your 401(k) contributions by 1% annually can make a difference over time.
Financial Planning Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
Getting your finances and goals on track can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal. We’re here to take the guesswork out of reaching your goals and navigating uncertainties– no spooky stuff, we promise! Call us to get started and make the most of Financial Planning Month.