A strong financial future begins with a sound financial plan.
Your sense of what it means to be financially secure is likely to have certain things in common with the way other women in your family, at work, or in your circle of friends define that phrase:
- Being comfortable that there’s enough income to pay regular bills
- Saving enough to cover unexpected expenses
- Having the right types and amounts of insurance to protect your dependents and your assets
- Owning a home
- Paying for your children’s education if you’re a parent
- Affording a comfortable retirement
But it’s also likely that your special situation — whether you run your own business, are a single parent, care for aging parents or a special needs child, or are still finishing your education — determines where most of your energy goes and how your immediate and long-term goals differ from other people’s.
How do you achieve both the more universal goals and those that are uniquely your own? The answer is, you plan ahead, you define your goals, and you learn from your own and other people’s mistakes.
When silence isn’t golden
Since the point of financial planning is setting goals and finding ways to achieve them, you need to decide what’s important to you personally and how you plan to make it a reality.
If you’re on your own, the next step is beginning to invest, perhaps with the assistance of a financial advisor. If you have a spouse or partner, you’ll be ready to put your heads together about the goals you share and those that are more important to one or the other of you.
If asserting yourself about how money gets spent, how much you should be investing, or which investments you’re making is hard for you, you may want to make an extra effort to say what you think. You don’t want to risk being frustrated, or even angry, about not being able to afford something in the future because nobody knew it mattered to you.
The starting point
Developing a plan that will help put you on the road to financial security is easier than you may think. The place to begin is by evaluating where you are now, what you want to achieve, and how much each of those goals will cost.
As part of creating your plan, you’ll also need to develop a timeline and a set of priorities. Although some of the things you’d like to accomplish are right around the corner, others may be 30 or 40 years in the future. Similarly, you may decide that while some of your goals would be nice to achieve, others are absolutely essential.
Key to financial planning
You need to know how to read the signs on the road to the financial security, and how to decide which turns to take to arrive where you want to be.
- Avoid debt bumps. If you are still paying for purchases you made weeks or months in the past, it will be harder to afford what you want in the future.
- Understand risks. Investments can shrink in value as well as grow. You need to learn about the different types and levels of risk and why some risks may be worth taking.
- Anticipate inflation. You need to be prepared to pay gradually increasing prices for almost everything, almost every year.
- Allocate assets. You don’t want to make the mistake of putting too much money into one single category of investment, even your home.
- Diversify investments. You are probably better off in the long run with several different stocks, bonds or mutual funds rather than just one of each.
What Is Financial Planning? [Full Guide] by Inna Rosputnia
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