When it comes to our finances, we often get mixed up in the excitement of what is new and shiny thanks to everchanging technology providing us with constant information and recommendations. It can be tempting to immediately take action in today’s world because it seems like everything is urgent and needs to happen immediately to be successful. The fear of missing out has never been more prevalent, as we’ve seen with meme stocks, cryptocurrencies, IPOs and many other investments that have been pushed in the media over the last few years. However, you would never tell a patient they need a root canal without first taking x-rays and inspecting their teeth to determine the problem and best course of action. Your finances and future shouldn’t be any different.
The assets that make up your investment portfolio are one of the least important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to a strong financial foundation. You first need to understand and develop your values, goals and process before you can properly select the right investment strategy for you. Like anything in life, in order to get to where you want to go, you have to first have a plan, in this case, a financial and life plan. Here’s how to prepare for your dream future.
Determine Your Values
You know that it is important to save and invest your money, but what are you actually saving and investing for? You have to know your “why.” These are the reasons you get out of bed each morning and do what you do every day. Start by thinking about the things you value most – family, health, purpose, financial independence, happiness, fun, just to name a few examples. These values serve as the core, not only to your financial plan, but also your life. Always keep these values in mind, as they will keep you motivated and inspired along the way.
Define Your Goals
After understanding why your financial plan is important, you can create your goals and actionable steps to achieve them. Start with your long-term life goals and mission, keeping your values in mind. Would you like to retire by 55? Take an international vacation annually? Have enough saved to work-part time, so you can focus on other aspirations? The options are endless based on what is most important to you.
After determining your life goals, you can break them down into a 1-, 5- and 10-year plan to confirm you are on track to achieve your biggest dreams. Write them down and share with loved ones for accountability. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins along the way!
Build Your Financial Plan
Here is where your finances come into play. Many individuals want to start investing without ever thinking about what they are actually investing for. Your plan lays out your goals and how you will achieve them. Aside from investing, it covers your cash flow, taxes, retirement, business plan, risk tolerance and insuring you and your loved ones are protected. Working with a financial planner can take many of these tasks off of your plate, provide peace of mind and establish an accountability partner along your journey.
Only once your financial plan is developed, can you accurately build out your investment strategy that fits your timeline and needs. Many people want to skip steps and rush to the implementation phase without really understanding the purpose for it. Dreams without an action plan are just wishful thinking, and only you can define what success means for yourself. Always go back to your “why,” and build your life plan around it.