“So little one, what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s one of the first questions that many of us faced as youngsters, more often than not from a distant relative we couldn’t have recognised in a police line-up.
From generation to generation, the answers haven’t changed much – fire fighter, doctor, movie star or sports champ. Few of us ever follow through on this earliest example of goal setting.
Flash forward to the final days of secondary school, and the same questions start to take on a more serious face. School grades, financial realities and the looming weight of adulthood seemingly reduce the options to a more realistic field.
Suddenly, that aspiring movie star or sports champ finds him or herself pouring coffees to fund studies, then attached to a mundane desk job and wondering how the best years disappeared.
Many of us treat the vast bulk of our life as a rehearsal for a time when the universes of health, wealth and happiness converge to form our idea of paradise at some point in an indeterminable future. But, as many of our Facebook friends remind us on a daily basis via myriad motivational JPEGs and messages, life is here and now and, like our day-to-day existence, needs a decent plan to deliver on our dreams.
Only after you have clearly identified what it is you want from your life can you make good decisions regarding money and the role you want it to play. Yes, money. It’s going to be mighty hard to climb your literal or metaphoric Mt Everest without a thorough financial plan.
Today is your life as much as tomorrow, and the best approach for achieving financial freedom is one that creates a balance between the two. At the same time, don’t aim for Mt Kosciusko when it’s Everest you really want. So let’s get started:
Review your current situation
You need to be honest with yourself about where you are now. To find out where you stand financially, draw up a budget showing income and outgoings. Once you know exactly what you spend each month, you can look at how to cut costs to create additional income.
Goals to live by
Set out your goals in writing. Most people find it helps to clarify whether they really want something. It is also part of the process involved in working out how to achieve it. Expect that there will be some compromises along the way; you might like the idea of saving up to buy a motorcycle and travelling around Australia, but your partner may be dreaming of buying a beach shack.
Understand exactly what is involved as you are deciding both the final outcome and the journey involved in getting there. In other words, your long-term goals determine how you will live your life today.
Be prepared for the unexpected
You may also need to adjust a goal to reflect what is happening in the outside world, or alter what you are doing to ensure your goal is reached as originally planned. To combat this you need to regularly review your strategy and monitor where things are headed, and also prepare for that rainy day when something unexpected happens.
At the heart of this process, never forget that time in your childhood when you dreamed of being that movie star or sports champ. With our help incorporating your goals into the financial planning process, you can still live out your dreams, whatever they may be.
Still have some questions?
This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.