By Liz Behlke
Before the whole world was carrying a GPS around in their pockets, I loved planning weekend camping trips using detailed topographical maps. I’d unfold a section of the wilderness on my kitchen table, locate a starting point, then trace alternate routes into scenic high country, waterfalls, or alpine lakes. Using the map in front of me I could choose a leisurely hike or a strenuous expedition and I’d have a pretty good idea of what kind of gear I would need for the trip.
Having the whole picture right in front of me was reassuring: I could visualize the terrain and even plot out alternate routes in case conditions on my chosen trail started to get hairy. With my topo map in my pocket, I felt confident to occasionally leave the beaten path and explore hidden vistas. Adventure is exhilarating, and even better when you have a plan.
Choose your path
A personal financial plan is rather like that topographical map. With a detailed view of the landscape, you can plot out different routes depending on where you want to go and what you’d like to see along the way. Your goals and aspirations determine the destination for your financial plan. Once you’ve plotted your route, you’ll have a good idea how you’re going to get there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some exploring along the way.
Why have a financial plan
It’s never a good idea to set off into the wilderness without a map. And it’s also no fun to hike only where the crowds are because you’re unsure of the path. A financial plan is a great way to plan your life journey, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned traveler. Your financial plan helps you:
- Prioritize your goals – like buying a house, paying off debt, or funding retirement and plan how to get there.
- Gain a better understanding of how to structure savings, investments, and insurance to secure your future.
- Make sure unexpected events or emergencies don’t become disasters.
- Stay motivated because you have a plan for reaching your goals.
- Know what kind of resources you have so you can splurge or take a calculated risk.
Your personal financial plan also helps you have more productive conversations with your spouse, partner, or family members about finances – it literally keeps you all on the same page. Money is an emotional topic, but better information and an objective planning process can help keep everyone on track.
You may ask why I still prefer a topographical map when I’m exploring the wilderness. It’s because I’ve heard about the trouble people get into when they just rely on their mobile device. I prefer to know the landscape and have a complete plan, not just get directions for which way to turn next.
If you’re not familiar with how to read a topographical map, you may need some pointers. And when it comes to financial planning, your Arrivity planner can guide you through the financial terrain that lies ahead and make sure your journey is full of the right kind of adventure.
Questions for setting goals
- What do you want to accomplish in life regardless of your financial resources?
- What does it mean for you to live your values? How do your goals align with your values?
- Do you know which goals are truly yours, and which are expectations that come from those around you?
- Next time you want to talk to your spouse or partner about money, talk about creating a financial plan instead.
- Write down your goals on individual cards and organize them by importance. You can do this individually or as a family.
- To make sure your financial plan is thorough, gather all your financial statements, insurance, and asset information in one place for your planner to review.
Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or email@example.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.
Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.
The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.