If you’re looking to improve the way you manage your finances, follow our simple ten step guide to creating a successful financial plan.
Step one: Establish your personal goals
When planning your personal finances, you need to know what goals and objectives you are aiming for. Your first step to creating a financial plan should be to establish some short, medium and long term goals for you to aim for. As with any objective setting, assign priorities to each of your objectives to help you understand what is most important for you to achieve. Not sure what your goals could be? Below are a selection of objectives which could inspire some objectives of your own:
- Educational goals: Improving intellectual ability, whether for yourself or your family. Maybe further education such as an MBA, sending your children to university or taking some professional qualifications.
- Occupational goals: Furthering your career either to establish a strong income stream or simply for the titles.
- Lifestyle goals: Things that you do for fun and personal enjoyment.
- Residential goals: Maybe you want to move abroad, live in a big house or maybe live in the countryside.
- Retirement goals: When do you want to stop working, where do you want to retirement.
Step two: Organise your files
It’s important that you create a filing system for your finances. Whether that’s a physical repository of your documents or maybe you plan to have it stored on a computer. Just remember, it’s always good practice to create a backup of any system.
Documents to keep include: receipts, statements, contracts, policies, wills, deeds, titles, pay slips – essentially anything which relates to your financial situation.
Step three: Budget setting
Knowing what you goals are, it is important you create a budget to know how much your outgoing expenses are to be able to know how much you have spare. If you set up a simple spreadsheet, this will help you understand your situation from month to month. If you have a smartphone or tablet, there are apps which can help you input your expenditure and measure it against your budget.
Step four: Managing the delta
Once you have started to understand your budget and expenditure, over a period of time you can see what scope there is to manage the change to bring your spending into line with your budget – or maybe get ahead of your financial plan.
Step five: Future-proofing and planning
It’s unlikely your income is going to remain the same throughout your career. Align your future career plans with your financial plan to see when/how you need to adapt your career to meet your financial plan. You need to also consider potential unplanned income, inheritance and investments.
Step six: Time
No objectives would be complete without setting a time frame for achieving them. Start by setting short, medium and long term objectives of 2, 10 and 20 years.
Step seven: Create an extended budget
Your day-to-day budget covers normal expenses, but there will be times when you need to spend money on exceptional items – such as your home, holidays and cars.
Step eight: Income allocation
Once you have considered your expenses and budget plans, consider how much of your income you can and need to allocate to each of your financial objectives, not forgetting to consider your personal priorities.
Step nine: Stick to your plan
It’s never enough to write a plan and then file it away. Keep reviewing your expenditure and income to ensure you stay on track and you stand a much greater chance of reaching your financial goals.
Step ten: Evaluate your plan
As time progresses, you are able to review your plan and make decisions on whether you need to refine your plan to meet your objectives sooner – or whether you have scope to have some additional expenditure to enjoy. Maybe new opportunities have arisen which could increase your income – if you are able to evaluate against your plan, you can make an informed decision.