In this fast-paced world, financial success and accomplishing one’s goals require a strategy or plan.
Most people develop partial plans – For instance, we develop financial plans to finance university education, to buy a car, to go on vacation, to buy a house and even to play mas. These plans will differ in the level of detail depending on the nature of our goal.
Successful people develop an overall plan spanning three to five years – this is the realm of personal financial planning.
A Personal Financial Plan ensures that you make the most appropriate use of your financial resources and enhances your chances of accomplishing the goals that you have set.
A Personal Financial Plan seeks to chart a financial course over your life cycle. Typically, it could involve planning for tertiary education, changes in family circumstances through to retirement.
One of the most efficient and effective personal financial planning tools is a budget. A budget allows you to implement your personal financial plan and to determine exactly how and on what you intend to spend your money. When preparing a budget, you ought to clearly establish a goal or set of goals. One important goal is determining the amount of money that you would like to put aside for a rainy day.
Personal financial planning compels you to answer some critical questions such as:
• How much can I start saving now?
• How much debt do I have now?
• When do I want to retire?
• What type of lifestyle would I wish to have when I retire?
• When do I want to own my own home?
• How much do I want to put aside for my children’s education?
These questions may vary depending on your particular situation. Regardless of the situation however, it is necessary that certain steps be taken if Personal Financial Planning is to be successful. The key steps in successful financial planning involve:
1. Gather all of your financial information. Knowing your financial position provides a holistic view which can better equip you to define a realistic strategy for your personal financial growth. Categorizing your information into income, expenses, assets and liabilities and making a comprehensive list of your miscellaneous expenses will best guide your financial planning process.
2. Plan for three to five years at a time. Formulating a specific or detailed medium-term strategy affords you the ability to better realize your financial goals. This should be done in tandem with making a list of all the goals that you want to accomplish and putting time frames, as well as dollar values on each goal as far as possible.
3. Review your plan periodically. As time passes, your personal financial plan should be monitored in order to determine if there is need for adjustments or reassessments to that originally outlined. You should review your information regularly to gauge your progress.
4. Saving is integral to successful personal financial planning. Identifying the path that you want to follow is only one step in realizing your financial goals. Saving towards accomplishing your goals is the other.
5. Create an Emergency Fund. Having a fund for emergencies provides a “financial cushion”. Should an unforeseen event occur, the emergency fund can be accessed therefore protecting the savings aligned to your goals
6. Invest wisely. Consider various financial instruments Seek advice from a registered financial service provider. In the process of formulating a financial plan, and considering investing, it is critical for you to weight the amount of risk that you can afford to take- financially and psychologically. Investment instruments can range from being low to high in risk. Those high in risk, for example, are usually accompanied by higher returns, but greater chances of failure.
7. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Diversification is recommended for successful financial planning. It is wise to stay on the look out for opportunities that vary in risk, but in keeping with your risk profile (core attitude towards risk).
8. Consider real estate as an option. Land is an asset that generally appreciates in value. In formulating a financial plan, it is prudent to maintain the acquisition of real estate as an instrument to strive towards.
Remember, in order to achieve financial success, and convert your dreams into reality, a good financial plan is needed.