It is crucial to set and reach financial goals. A financial plan helps reach the goals you have set, both short and long term. A good plan guides you along the way. It helps you determine the order of your major life steps until you reach your goals. Basically, a financial plan is a tool that helps you make the best financial decisions so that you can remain focused on your goals.
But why do you need one?
Here are five reasons why it is recommended to have a plan:
- Helps save money to reach your goals: It is easier to save when you know why you are saving.
- Helps prioritize your goals: What is more crucial in your life? Buying a car, a house, or paying school fees? With a financial plan, it becomes easier to know what to accomplish first and what to follow.
- Organize your finances: Having trouble balancing your spending and saving? A financial plan comes in handy.
- Helps you focus on the big picture: With a plan, it is easier to keep an eye on everything, from spending and saving to investment and taxes.
- Worry less about money: A good plan will always help you know where you are today and what needs to be done to get where you want to go.
How to design a financial plan
It is easy to make one. You can seek the assistance of an expert or take the DIY route. Whichever option works best for you, creating a financial plan follows the following steps:
1. Start by setting financial goals
Setting financial goals is very crucial, and the first step of every financial planning. Where do you want to be in the next five, ten, or twenty years? Do you want to own a home? Do you want to have kids? These are some of the questions that will help you set your financial goals. Setting goals not only inspires but also helps you to remain focused throughout. Financial goals planning tools come in handy when setting your goals.
2. See where your money goes
Make sure you have a complete picture of the amount that is coming and the amount going out. That way, it will be possible to control your spending. According to NerdWallet 50/30/20 budget principles, spend 50% of your income on needs (transport, housing, utilities, etc.), 30% on wants (entertainment, clothing, etc.), and 20% toward debt repayment and savings.
3. Get your employer match
Any financial advisors you will meet when seeking advice will definitely ask whether you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k). They may also ask whether your employer matches any part of your contribution. Why? Because they know the value of having a saving plan like 401(k).
4. Prepare for emergencies
Emergencies are unpredictable. Don’t let them become disasters by setting aside some cash to address them. For example, you can set aside $800 for emergencies. Building your credit is also a good thing. With good credit, you can solve a lot peacefully.
5. Address toxic debts
Your financial plan must help you tackle high-interest debts smoothly; otherwise, you might find yourself repaying more while it was possible to pay less. With a sound plan, no debt is huge.
6. Invest in building your savings
You don’t need to have much money to start investing early. For example, you can begin to invest in the education of your children through 529 savings plans or Roth IRA. You can as well save for retirement through 401(k) plans or Roth IRA. Don’t fear to invest early to boost your savings. It is healthy to start investing early.
7. Design a moat to protect your progress
Every step you have taken so far is helping you build a moat to protect you and your family from financial impediments. Here is how you can continue to advance your financial moat:
- Boost your retirement savings.
- Padding your emergency fund until you have three to six months of essential living expenses.
- Use insurance to shield your financial stability. A good insurance cover protects you from occurrences likely to derail your life.
What should a financial plan include?
A financial plan includes all the details about your finances. From cash flows and saving to debts and insurance, this plan helps you reach your financial goals seamlessly by helping you map out clear strategies for achieving them.
What are the four main areas of financial planning?
These areas include Risk management, financial planning, retirement planning, and tax planning.
What are the six steps used to design a financial plan?
Here are the six steps to follow when creating a financial plan:
- Determine your current financial situation.
- Develope financial goals.
- Identify alternative courses of action.
- Evaluate alternatives.
- Create and implement a financial action plan, and.
- Re-evaluate and revise the plan.