The Basics of a Financial Plan: Four tips on how to get started


By ROBERT S. COLLINS/ BHP Custom Publishing

Most people that wade through life without any kind of financial plan, or a plan for life’s goals, do not end up at their desired location. Sure, they have the best of intentions for saving for college for their kids, saving up for that dream home on the beach or even the ultimate goal of a comfortable retirement. Often times, they fall way short, which affects every other future goal. Think of a snowball rolling downhill. Do you get the picture?

Most people that wade through life without any kind of financial plan, or a plan for life’s goals, do not end up at their desired location. Sure, they have the best of intentions for saving for college for their kids, saving up for that dream home on the beach or even the ultimate goal of a comfortable retirement. Often times, they fall way short, which affects every other future goal. Think of a snowball rolling downhill. Do you get the picture?

Why are goals missed? Well, it could be apathy or laziness, but I find this is rarely the case. Many people never make a plan simply because they don’t know how. They don’t even know where to start. If this sounds familiar, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Review your goals. Any good planning starts with reviewing what you’re trying to accomplish. What is most important to you? Start with the small goals like paying off your car or a credit card, and keep making the list until you dream big. That’s part of the fun.

2. Prioritize the list. Hone in on which items should be on your A list, your B list and so on. It is rare one is motivated simply by the act of paying off a credit card. However, once someone has the vision of buying the car they always wanted, or of successfully saving for their child’s college education BECAUSE they paid off that prior debt, it spurs on their motivation to take care of the mundane to accomplish their loftier goals.

3. Put the numbers to your goals. Every goal will have some sort of cost, whether it’s a monetary amount or time spent achieving the goal. This effort should be as accurate as possible because goals, whether asset accumulation or debt reduction based, are best achieved when the information relied upon is precise. We generally recommend knocking out small goals or small debts first (unless high interest rates affect the decision). Remember the snowball?

4. Put your plan to work, and check your plan often. Having a system of checks and balances works. I often use this clich, because it is truth: Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Make a plan, no matter how simple. Make it real, and make it matter to you. Then check it often. If you feel like you just can’t do it yourself, or you get stuck during the process, look online for financial planning toolkits or find a local CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Robert S. Collins III is a Registered Principal with, and Securities and Financial Planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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