By Miriam Caldwell
Updated December 01, 2016
Over the years, I have met with and talked to a wide variety of people about their finances. It seems there are generally two camps when it comes to finances: those who swear by their financial plans and those who do not have one. The planners tend to have every step mapped out for the next twenty to forty years with specific savings and investing goals. The ones who do not have a plan have the vague idea that things will work out for them if they put a little bit towards retirement each month.
They may have debt, and no solid plan to purchase a house. Unfortunately without a financial plan, it can be a lot more difficult to reach your financial goals, because you do not know which goal to work on next. Your financial plan will help you be ready for each of the financial steps in your life.
A financial plan will help you by creating a timeline for you to follow for your goals. It helps you focus the way you manage your money and your time on reaching your financial goals, so that you can do the things you want to in your life. An important part of your financial plan is your budget. Your budget allows you to plan how and when you want to spend your money. It makes it easier to find ways to save money and to find extra money to get out of debt. While your financial plan is the path you follow, your budget is the tool that you use to get there. It is what will help you do the actual work that you need.
Preparing a budget is an essential part of making your overall financial plan work.
When you first come up with a financial plan, you need to have clear goals in mind. The more specific the goals are the better. For example, if you want to retire early, you need to have a specific age and an amount that you need saved in order to reach your goal.
A financial planner or advisor can help you with this part of your plan. She can help you figure out the specific numbers you need to reach your retirement goals. She can help you determine how much you need to invest each month and make recommendations on the type of investments you should use to reach those goals. If you are not comfortable with investing on your own, or you have never done it, then a financial planner or investment advisor will help you begin to do it. If you want to really build wealth, you will need a stronger strategy then just putting money into your retirement accounts each month.
Additionally, a financial plan helps you prepare for the big events in your life. Unless you plan for it, you will not wake up one day and magically be ready to purchase a home. You need to save up for a down payment and clean up your debt, so that you can afford the house on time. Similarly, unless you plan and put money aside for your children’s college, you will not have money when they are eighteen. A financial plan helps you to take the steps you need to in order to take care of your family.
It can be intimidating to plan out your finances when you are in your twenties. You may not be sure exactly where you want to end up or what goals you want to accomplish.
Your financial plan is fluid and it can change as your goals and dreams change. When you are in twenties, you may just want to prepare for the big life events, so that when you want to take the next step you are ready to do so. The big events you need to include on your plan are retirement, purchasing a home, and starting a family. Once you start the family and have children you can add in the additional goal of paying for your children’s college education. If you prepare for these events now, you will be ready when they happen, and if the events never happen, you will be better off financial because you will be debt free with money in the bank.
Just creating your plan is your first step. You will need to create a budget and break down your goals into manageable pieces so that you can reach them.
It is important that your goals are realistic. You can create an effective financial plan through careful planning, but you also need to commit following it. The plan can help you as make major financial decisions in each of the stages of your life. It can help you pursue your dreams. You may want to consult a financial planner when you are ready to begin investing.