When we were growing up and playing sports on teams, we did not get to game day without a plan. We had an overall plan of attack, a lineup, a list of the opponent’s weaknesses, and some special plays in the book for certain circumstances. The same is true in the military. While things may not go well after first contact, we had a plan before we started. We have an MTOE of personnel and equipment. The intelligence section briefs us on the potential enemy composition and threat.
Whether it is members of the military or members of the high school football team, they have a game plan ready. Why wouldn’t we have one for our financial lives as well? A plan will help us tailor our goals, focus our energy, capitalize on our strengths, and protect our vulnerabilities. We must have a game plan for our finances.
Start At The End. Start with the end in mind. When you are laying out your financial game plan, you have to know where you want to end up. Do you want a sailboat and a PO Box? Or, do you want a house on the farm with 20 acre and a pond? Do you want to have a big family and all your kids not have to take out loans for the cost of college?
Doesn’t Have To Be Big. You do not have to write a plan the size, detail, and complexity of Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy. You will be more successful when your financial game plan is simpler. It will be easier to execute. Maybe your game plan is to invest XYZ percentage of your income into a retirement account and then increase it by 1% per year. Start small and after you get the hang of it, you can have a certified financial planner build you larger, more complex plan.
Write Your Plan Out. A written budget is easier to follow than one that you only keep in your head. The same is true for your financial plan of attack. A written investing, savings, and/or debt reduction plan is harder to stray away from than the one you do not fully commit to. Writing it down makes it more official. But, where should we keep it after it is written? One great suggestion is the tape it up to your refrigerator like one of your six year-old child’s artwork. Like a buddy at the gym keeping you honest and focused, announcing your plan and financial goals to other people makes you more inclined to keep them.
Get Help When Needed. When there is a penalty kick in soccer, the coach does not always turn to the guy who was just fouled. Teams have guys who are naturally better at those types of kicks under pressure. You should also consider seeking out professional advice when you need it. You should not shy away from help, especially in a specialty area that you may not be familiar with. Even with my love of investing, I have an accountant look over my taxes. I hate dealing with taxes. It is not my strong suit, and that is a reason I do not usually get into them here. Do not be ashamed to calling an expert if needed from your lineup or the bullpen.
We must have a game plan for our money, investments, and other finances. You would not attack an enemy or an opponent on the field without a plan, and you would not approach your retirement without one too. A financial plan will help ensure our readiness, help identify our monetary needs, focus our resources, allow us to recognize where we may need help, and provide us with a roadmap to our goals and dreams.