Begin with the end in mind

When we speak of financial planning, what we usually mean is saving and investing money for the future. What this means is that you have not consumed everything that you have produced (the opposite of credit, which is consuming more than you have produced). There is only one reason not to consume everything you produce today (i.e. spend all your money). That something is uncertainty.

When you save, it is because you are not certain what the future will hold in terms of your needs, the economic climate, and your ability to produce and meet those needs.

So let’s review the basic needs that you have:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Protection
  • Comforts

Your financial planning should include planning for these on a regular basis as well as strictly monetary considerations. For example, have you ever been to the grocery store when a hurricane is coming? The aisles are stripped within a few hours of the news, because the stores only carry about 72 hours of groceries at any given time. Although it wasn’t as photogenic as the Superdome after Katrina, the ice storms in the Midwest in 2009 caused more destruction and left many people stranded and without power for 3-4 weeks. You need to store enough food to get you through likely disasters in your chosen area.

I don’t agree with everything he says, and he can be a little obnoxious, but Jack Spirko’ The Survival Podcast is an excellent resource for every day preparedness and securing your immediate financial situation as well as your future.

Goal setting

It’s important to know where you want to go, because otherwise, how do you expect to get there? You need to set financial goals. One way of doing this is to have a savings/investment goal by age. So for example, you may want a million dollars saved up by the time you are fifty. This allows you to operationalize your goal.

For our example, let’s say you are 22, and your goal is to have a million dollars by the the time you are 50. That gives you 28 years to meet your goal. Google “investment calculator” and choose one (I like Dave Ramsey’s.) Start playing with the numbers and see what you get. For example, if your goal is a million dollars in 28 years, you would need to contribute $550/mo at 10% interest to reach a million dollars.

But how do I get there?

You may find that you need to adjust your spending habits or increase your income to meet your financial goals. Your other option is to seek higher rates of return through investing. We will cover investing options in the next page.