Financial plans vary based on each individual, but most focus on budgeting, saving and retirement planning. Immediate plans could include setting up an emergency savings fund or developing a debt repayment strategy.
Medium-term goals could include purchasing a new car or starting your own business; long-term ones include saving enough to retire comfortably.
1. Determine your goals
Settling financial goals helps establish an accountability structure to keep you moving in the right direction. Your long-term objectives could include saving enough for retirement, paying off mortgages or purchasing homes; intermediate goals might include savings in tax-advantaged accounts like 401(k), IRA or college savings plans.
Priorities vary based on each individual and can be altered by unexpected circumstances, but everyone should establish basic savings and retirement goals for themselves. When progressing toward these goals, set milestones to maintain your momentum and stay on course – they could range from something as straightforward as paying off one credit card within five years, to more complex initiatives like developing a budget and spending less money.
2. Create a budget
Financial plans provide you with a clear picture of where money is coming and going, and can also help set immediate, midterm, and longterm goals.
Start by tracking your monthly income and expenses using either a spreadsheet or app. This will give you an accurate depiction of where your money is going, helping you discover ways to cut spending or put more toward debt repayment or savings.
Next, create a budget tailored specifically to your needs and goals. In general, half of your income should go toward necessities like housing, food and utilities while 30% should go toward wants such as entertainment or gym memberships – leaving 20% for savings or paying off debt.
3. Create a savings plan
After you have an understanding of your budget and where your monthly funds are coming in and going out, the next step should be creating a savings plan. Prioritize savings goals based on needs; for instance emergency money (enough for at least three months of living expenses for you and your family), debt repayment, short-term savings goals such as vacation or home purchase savings goals and retirement contributions should all be prioritized accordingly.
Once your short-term savings goals have been accomplished, begin contributing regularly to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like an individual retirement account or 401(k). Regular contributions will enable your nest egg to expand over time.
4. Create a retirement plan
Once you’ve created a short-term plan, savings goal and debt repayment strategy, it is time to draft your retirement plan.
At this stage, financial planning can provide invaluable assistance. Your retirement plan should outline an estimate of how much money is necessary to retire comfortably based on factors like life expectancy and inflation.
Prioritize and rebalance your retirement contributions regularly. Although it can be tempting to withdraw during market downturns, history shows that staying invested can bring greater long-term returns. Consider layering your income streams such as Social Security and pensions with investment accounts so as to protect against depleting savings during an unexpected market downturn.
5. Create a debt repayment plan
Debt repayment plans can be an essential element of financial planning. With an effective debt repayment strategy in place, it becomes much simpler to stay motivated and stick with it.
Start by listing all of your debts and how much they owe. Prioritize these by balance, interest rate or any combination thereof; consider using the snowball method of debt payoff, which begins by eliminating smaller debts first.
Make use of a debt calculator or budgeting app to get an accurate picture of your monthly cash flow and look for ways to cut expenses or make extra money (side gig, personal sale etc) that can go toward debt repayment goals. Work with creditors on trying to reduce interest rates or penalties fees as part of your strategy.