What is a Financial Plan, and How Do I Create One?
A financial plan creates a roadmap for your money and helps you define and achieve your goals. Financial plans are unique to each person. You can create one on your own, or with the help of a financial advisor by following these four steps.
- Define your goals.
The first step in the process of creating a financial plan is to outline your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Begin by defining what your goals are, and how long it will take to achieve them. Short-term goals are under one year, mid-term goals are about two to four years and long-term goals refers to goals that you are more than five years from achieving.
A few examples include: paying for your children’s college, buying a new car, paying off debt, or increasing your savings. By defining these goals, you set yourself on the path to achieving them.
- Understand your finances.
Start by collecting information about your finances. Begin by recognizing your fixed expenses including rent, mortgage payment, utility bills, or other fixed expenses you consistently pay. Consider the assets and liabilities you have such as properties, investments, retirement accounts and loans.
Analyze your spending history to further understand how and where you spend money. By understanding this information, you can accurately assess your current financial standing.
- Design your financial plan.
Now that you understand your financial goals, you can begin to take actionable steps to achieving them. You may want to save money for retirement, an emergency fund, or a big purchase. You may be working to pay off debt, or are interested in investing. If you are considering making a large purchase like a car or a house, you should build into your financial plan a way to build up your credit. If this is the case, paying off credit cards or student loans would help to increase your credit.
Another important aspect of the financial plan is paying off any debts you may have. You can speak with a financial advisor about the best way to pay down your debts, increase your investments and plan for large purchases in the future.
- Tip: Creat small wins.
As you craft and implement your financial plan, keep in mind your goals and how you will achieve them. Set short-term and long-term goals for yourself that can serve as milestones along the way. Hitting these smaller goals will help you stay on track!
- Meet with a financial advisor.
Review your financial plan with an advisor who can verify or alter your initial plan in order to successfully reach your goals. They will provide an overview of how to reach your financial goals, as well as extensive advice in this area. When deciding which financial planner to use, look for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional.™
Creating a financial plan is the first step to responsibly managing your money and planning for the future. Our team of financial advisors are ready to help you! Contact us for more information.