3 Tips for Staying on Track with Life Planning
Unless you are a financial advisor, you will mostly feel like a novice when it comes to life planning- even if you’ve been making and trying to reach financial goals for some time. Parents, in particularly, strive to stay on track with life planning because they want to make the correct contingencies to plan for their children’s futures. If you are trying to remain true to your financial goals and life planning mission, these three tips will help.
- Keep in Mind It’s Never Too Late to Get Back on Track
Much like those who try but fail to reach weight loss goals, people who try to stay on track with life planning sometimes veer off course and give up altogether. It’s important that you forgive yourself and take steps to get back on track by refocusing your finances and recommitting to your financial goals. There is time to get back on track and continue working towards reaching all your life planning goals, even if you feel as though it’s a lost cause. At the end of the day, you want to ensure a secure future for your children, and getting back on track by refocusing on your financial goals is a must.
To get back on track, figure out why you went off course in the first place. Maybe you’re new to financial planning, and you’ve taken on too much. If you set unrealistic or unattainable goals, your plans will be derailed time. It’s better to set smaller goals and achieve them one at a time to motivate yourself to stay the course. Everyone falters with financial goals along the way- not only novices- but it’s important that you get back on track each time that you do.
- Reevaluate Your Budget
To stay on track with life planning, you need to reevaluate your budget at least every six months. As bills fluctuate and unforeseen expenses pop up, you need to account for them and make sure you have evaluated your current finances appropriately. Go through financial statements, investment accounts, recent utility bills, credit card bills, and other statements of income or expenses. Consider all sources of income and record your total take-home pay as a beginning monthly balance.
Then, create a list of regular monthly expenses. Don’t forget your mortgage payment, car payment, insurance bills, groceries, utilities, and credit card bills. It’s helpful to make two columns: one for fixed expenses and one for variable expenses so you can estimate your variable expenses based on your recent statements. Hopefully, your income is greater than your expenses so you can add to your savings accounts for your children and yourself.
- Evaluate Your Bank Accounts and Cash
This also is the time to carefully review your checking account and saving account, and the cash you keep on hand. One tip is to keep your checking account registers for a few years for reference, and to help you balance your accounts as needed. Many people keep them with their tax returns, which you are supposed to keep for seven years. You should store financial documents such as tax returns, loan papers, investment purchase confirmations, insurance policies, and other vital paperwork in a fireproof safe or in a safe-deposit box at your local bank.
Sadly, those with friends or family members who struggle with addiction should evaluate their bank accounts and cash on hand as often as possible. Too often people find that they are missing money or checks because their addicted loved one is desperate to purchase more drugs. Addiction-related fraud is a big problem, and you need to protect your finances from your loved one to stay on track with your life planning measures. Even if you don’t think your loved one would ever make you the victim of addiction-related fraud, you should keep the majority of your cash in a bank or credit union to better protect your finances.
The last thing you want to do is put your children’s futures at risk by getting too far off track with your life planning goals. That’s why you need to refocus on finances when you do get off track, reevaluate your budget periodically, and evaluate your bank accounts and cash you keep on you or at home, especially if you are a potential victim of addiction-related fraud.
This article was written by Brittany Fisher. Brittany has spent more than 20 years as a CPA, and is currently working on a book about financial literacy (due out in 2018). She also runs Financiallywell.info