How to Create a Personal Financial Plan
You’ve heard of entrepreneurs and executives creating a business plan to help them cement and guide their long-term strategy, but did you know that creating a personal financial plan is an excellent way to keep your long-term goals on track? Keeping your targets in front of you can be challenging when you feel pressured to say yes to friends during a night out or tempted to blow your budget in a moment of excitement. Having a plan to return to can help remind you of the future you want to build for yourself and your family and ensure you keep moving in the right direction.
In this week’s episode of the rich & REGULAR podcast about the joys of multiple streams of income and how to craft your own personal financial plan.
Starting a financial plan can be an intimidating prospect as you sit down in front of a blank piece of paper. As we’ve discussed before, make sure you block out some time to sit and think about your future, financial goals, and relationship with money and finances. This quiet reflection time is essential to see things clearly and create the life you want for yourself, not just what society tells you is important.
Start with a Mission Statement.
Developing a personal mission statement may sound silly, but there is a reason businesses put them at the top of their executive summaries. Mission statements clarify and anchor your personal beliefs into one or two short sentences. From there, you have an easy reference point for the rest of your financial plan. A mission statement also allows you to determine whether an idea or opportunity fits your goals and enables you to set boundaries with yourself and others if they don’t align with your mission.
Use the following questions and ideas to help you craft your mission statement:
- What feels like enough for my family and me?
- What would make me feel safe?
- Who do I want to be?
- What do I need to do to become that person?
- What does ‘the best life’ look like for me?
Review your money story.
If you’re having trouble answering some of these questions, review your money story and identify the significant themes from your past, as well as the language you used when you envision your future.
Write your statement.
Once you have the language from your story and some general answers to the questions above, begin crafting your mission statement. Mission statements generally use declarative sentences that identify the person (or organization) involved, the goals you are working toward, and your steps to reach those goals, but you can use whatever format feels impactful for you.
As an example, if you found yourself using words like abundance, security or peaceful in your money story, then your mission statement might look something like this:
The [Your Last Name] financial mission is to live with abundance and financial security, creating a peaceful home. We will do this by eliminating debt, funding our investment accounts with 20% of our income each year, and communicating openly about the problems or fears that we face with our finances.
Your mission statement is the core of creating your financial plan, and it may take some time to drill down to the essential pieces you want to include. Give yourself several days or weeks to think about and refine the statement you start with to meet your needs.
Write your financial goals.
Once you have your mission statement, use it to create goals and an action plan to achieve them. Break down each item into a list of actionable steps that help you bridge the gap between just wanting to create a safe financial future and accomplishing the tasks needed.
Referring back to our mission statement above, the goals set might be:
- I feel financially secure and experience abundance.
- I help my friends and family when they are in need.
- I travel the world and experience new things.
- I will achieve financial independence.
From there, we create an action plan that looks something like this:
Goal: Feeling Financially Secure.
- Prioritize saving 20% of gross income.
- Invest any bonuses or raises received this year into your brokerage account.
- Pay extra toward each monthly mortgage payment.
- Aggressively pay down credit card or other debt.
- Creating a separate savings account specifically for your travel money.
- Creating a budget for each trip you want to take.
- Having the money in savings before you book travel instead of using a credit card.
Setting big goals may seem like a good idea, but remember to keep them realistic and adaptable. Having ambitious goals is noble, but if you are constantly criticizing yourself because you miss the mark, take a step back and build some flexibility into your plan.
Set deadlines and milestones.
Once your goals are outlined, add a deadline to each and mark them in your calendar. Add periodic reminders and appointments to check in so that you repeatedly return to and review your mission statement and list of goals. If your goal is more of a general idea, such as paying for a trip in full, then give yourself a deadline to have the total cost of the trip in your savings account before you start buying tickets and hotel stays.
Having a deadline helps make these goals concrete and keeps you on track when peer pressure or distractions interfere with your plan.
Keep reviewing and adapting.
No one can predict what will happen five years from now, so our financial plans need to adapt and grow along with us. Make a date with yourself to pull out your financial plan every six months to a year and make sure the goals you listed are still working for you. Review your progress and celebrate any milestones or other accomplishments.
Returning to your financial plan will keep it front and center in your mind and help you say no to the things that don’t serve you. Remember that you are doing this to bring your mission statement to life and that financial peace and security are worth long-term planning and some sacrifice.
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