Last week we met with a couple who had one question in mind, “What are we doing?” The husband works with a Big 4 accounting firm and the wife is an account executive at a mid-sized marketing firm. Their oldest child just started grade school, the second was off to pre-school, and the third just arrived.
For as long as they have been married, the wife managed the daily finances of paying bills and allocating savings, while the husband managed their 401(k), selected insurance, and worked with the attorney to get their wills completed.
They are two highly successful people who have built strong careers and an exceptional family. However, they had a simple question about their finances – “What are we doing?”
This is a relatable position for many of us. Sometimes we get caught up in the daily routine of work, kids, and more kids, we lose track of our plan. However, setting yourself in the right direction does not have to be an extremely laborious task. Below is an exercise you can do for one hour every six months that may help you better understand “what you are doing” and get you pointed in the right financial direction.
- Take stock of where you are. On one sheet of paper, list everything you have – bank accounts, loans, credit cards, property, investments and retirement accounts, insurance policies, estate documents. You can look up exact values, or just estimate. This will give you a picture of where you are today. Simply by creating the list, you might see opportunities and issues pop up. Keep this sheet and use it to evaluate your progress.
- Dream about where you want to go. Set goals – 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year goals. Make these goals concrete and measurable. Typically these will come in the form of “I want to send my kids to private college in 15 years,” or “We want to move to a bigger house in 3 years.”
- Pick three. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is financial freedom (save lottery winners). Choose three small goals you would like to achieve and either complete them immediately or set daily habits that will help you accomplish your goals. Save $100 each month to a “new house” fund. Pay double on your student loans. Complete your estate planning documents. These small habits will make a big difference. Some of these tasks may require that you enlist experts in estate planning or financial planning. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in reaching your goals.
- Schedule a time to regularly check your progress. Every six months, pull out your old sheets of paper and evaluate your progress. You will be amazed at how quickly things can change. As new goals get accomplished, set new ones. If a habit has been formed, or often in my case, stopped working, select a new habit.
For more information, visit our website at www.makinglifecount.com or contact Patrick Amey – firstname.lastname@example.org, (913) 345-1881.