While juggling the demands of everyday life, it’s easy to put your financial planning on the back burner. Between working, home repairs, caring for your pets or children – it can be hard to find time for anything else. But when you make the effort to improve your finances a priority, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be building a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones.
Whether your goal is to get out of debt or save for the things you want today – achieving your goals starts with a comprehensive financial plan. This plan will be one of your keys to preparing for potential financial risks, saving for the future and planning for retirement. Get on track with these five easy tips:
No. 1: Know where you stand.
Before you know where you’re going, you must know where you are today. Review your current assets, debts, expenses, and income sources. Get a clear view of your financial situation by:
- Tracking your spending to see where your money is going.
- Checking your credit profile.
- Reviewing past financial successes and failures.
- Making sure your finances are adequately protected.
- Calculating your net worth.
No. 2: Create detailed, personal goals.
When setting goals, it’s important to make them specific and relatable. For example, “saving for vacation” isn’t as motivating as saving $5,000 by January for a vacation to Hawaii. Making sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and have a Timeline – will help propel you to achieve them.
No. 3: Partner to create a plan.
Partnering with a trusted financial representative will help you to map out strategies that can get you to your goals and set a time frame for reaching them. A financial professional can help you build a personalized plan to meet your short- and long-term goals – no matter how big or small. With some expert help, you can easily crunch the numbers, weigh options and map out a saving and investing strategy that’s right for you.
No. 4: Take control.
Not all financial priorities are based on big life milestones. Sometimes achieving a seemingly small financial feat can be just what you need to get on the right track. Unsure of where to begin? Here are some items to consider putting on your financial to-do list:
- Set a budget and stick to it.
- Build an emergency fund – aiming to have six months of living expenses socked away.
- Manage debt wisely (pay off high-interest and non-deductible debt first).
- Be strategic in your investment and saving decisions.
- Build your credit score.
- Save for retirement – and take full advantage of your employer’s retirement plan.
- Protect your assets and your income.
- Update your estate planning documents.
No. 5: Review your plan regularly.
Life is filled with changes, both personal and financial. Milestones like a new job or a new family member will impact your strategy. Make sure to meet with your financial representative before one of these milestones and at least annually to ensure your mix of investments, budget and insurance options are current and accurately reflect your goals and risk tolerance. To help you remember, plan to review your financial plan around the same time each year; the start of the new year or your birthday often work well.
As you strive to get your financial house in order, be sure to stay focused on the big picture. Keep in mind that financial planning isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime activity, it takes a strategic, steady effort to arrive at your destination. With a little thought, effort and planning, you may confidently achieve your financial goals. Jodi Vawdrey