You probably have competing financial goals and none of them exist in a vacuum, meaning, a decision to direct cash flow towards one often comes at the expense of another. So how do you make sure you are creating the balance you need to achieve your most important goals? It starts with viewing your financial picture through a broad lens and prioritizing what’s most important to you.
DEFINE YOUR GOALS
Put very simply, your financial planning goals are things that cost money in the future. Some goals happen every year, while others may be one-time expenses. Getting a better understanding of the big picture starts with more clearly defining your goals. Here are a few that many of our clients consider:
- Basic Living Expenses
- Starting a Business
- Car Replacement
- Private School
- Home Improvement
- Gifts or Donations
- Major Purchase
Your goals are constantly evolving, often looking very different 3, 5 or 10 years in the future. That’s okay! Once you have this framework in place, you can start crafting the strategies that will put you on the road to success. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else,” Yogi Berra is famous for saying.
All too often these words from Yogi Berra are prophetic when it comes to financial planning. People spend a lot of time trying to figure out the “someplace else” they’ve landed, rather than focusing on where they really want to go.
TAKE BIG GOALS AND MAKE THEM BITE-SIZED
Much of financial planning is dedicated to BIG goals that sometimes are decades out on the horizon. For example, a reasonable goal may read “I need to accumulate enough capital to sustain $150k in after-tax annual spending to fund a retirement that is going to begin in January of 2030.” That’s great but how are you going to actually get there? Breaking big goals into smaller, more manageable actions always makes more sense. Here’s how it might actually look in reality:
- Set my monthly payroll deduction to maximize my 401(k) contribution ($19,000 limit or $25,000 after the age 50) over the full calendar year.
- Setup a weekly auto-debit to transfer $500 to my investment account.
- Schedule a quarterly alert to rebalance my portfolios (401(k), Trust, Roth IRA) to a target allocation of 75% Stocks and 25% Bonds.
- In January, make a non-deductible IRA contribution ($6,000 limit or $7,000 after the age of 50) and convert that contribution to my Roth IRA in February.
Many external factors will impact the progress you make towards your goals (think investment returns) but all of the above actions are completely under your control. Automate these much smaller actions and let the power of compounding work for you!