|By Sarah Carlson, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®|
Personal finance planning remains one of the top New Year's goal. Do you have one? Have you ever had one? Do you need one?
You are a person with dreams and goals that are unique to you, your experiences, and part of your values. What is important to you, most likely, is different from what is essential to your neighbor, your childhood friend, and even your siblings. We are a combination of our experiences and genetic predisposition, and how we respond to the world around us is primarily our own experience.
A financial plan is a guide or map that lays out the game plan to get to a destination. I have always thought, if you don't know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.
Personal finance planning could be for a short-term goal; for example, if you plan for a vacation, you would decide where you are going, what kinds of accommodations you want for your stay, what you need for transportation to and from and what types of dining experiences and activities do you want to do while on your vacation. And most likely, how will you pay for it before you do any of this? Charging everything on a credit card and then later figuring out how to pay for it is not a good plan.
Short-Term Plan Example
With regard to the vacation example, I advocate a better plan by saving for the significant expense, paying for your airline tickets and hotel deposit before you leave, and ideally paying it all off before you even go. Now that is a solid short-term plan. Another example of a short-term plan would be a system to pay off your holiday credit card debt that is arriving just about now. Figure out what debt to prioritize, pay the highest interest debt first and get out of this debt before making a new large purchase like a new car—a game plan with a time horizon and a way to measure it.
Long-Term Plan Example
An example of a long-term retirement plan can and should include a strategy to maximize your social security benefits to benefit yourself and your partner throughout your lives. Another long-term plan could be a game plan and strategy to help educate your children with their education. A comprehensive plan will incorporate all of these pieces, short and long-term, into your individual life and goals. A sound practice is to monitor and readjust as life happens annually.
A solution is to hire a professional personal finance advisor to help you navigate this; there are resources online for the DIY folks with a passion and interest. As a Spokane financial advisor, I love equipping people with financial knowledge that matches their unique vision for life. The important thing is to get started, make time for it, and do it. So now is the time to revisit your plan or create a new one.
The main reason for personal finance planning is that you cannot plan for so much in life. Many people don't consider other variables such as unexpected life changes and emergency expenses. Those events can lead to financial chaos if neglected in the financial planning process.
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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.