Financial planning is different than goal setting or even financial goal planning. It’s like looking at a design for a whole building to make sure it fits together well. Your financial plan organizes and prioritizes all of your goals and puts them on a timeline and in context. You could probably rattle off a list of all the things you want and those are good rewards to strive for. Our goal is to get you to think about the big picture when you set a financial goal and make sure your goals are part of your larger financial plan.
There is no “one size fits all” financial plan, and your plan will be particular to your wants and situation. Talking with a certified and licensed financial planner may be a good start to help you formulate your own plan and check in with along the way.
Here are general benchmarks involved in financial planning.
A FINANCIAL PLAN
- Earn income to cover all your living expenses and start paying off debts.
- Assess whether you are properly protected with insurance.
- Create and stick to a budget.
- Pay off high interest debt (e.g. credit cards) and plan to pay off all debt.
- Save for an emergency fund ($500 to $1,000) (ideally, at least three months’ expenses).
- Achieve money balance between your needs, wants, and savings.
- Save and invest for retirement.
- Save for a financial goal (e.g. house down payment).
- Save for security (3-6 months of income).
- Assess whether enough money is being set aside toward retirement.
- Assess whether you can pay off debts faster.
- Make sure your decisions do not negatively alter your money balance.