One of the first things to consider in Financial Planning is Setting Goals, and identifying your destination.
Have you ever thought about what you’d really like to achieve in life? I don’t just mean career achievements (although they’re obviously important). What about “out-of-work” ambitions and objectives?
You could think of this as planning a journey – you start with a destination and a schedule, and sometimes some places you’ll visit along the way.
In my own “journey” plan (with some alternatives I’ve covered with clients) I incorporated headings such as:
Who’s important to me, and how can I best support them? My wife is a few years younger than I am, and my pension’s payable earlier than hers, so can we afford to retire on my income only? (Assisting children or grandchildren with education costs or stepping onto the housing ladder is a regular challenge for my clients – how can we best achieve this, and when. How do we know we can do without the assets we give away to help them?)
How long I’d like to continue working, and what my income and work pattern could be. (This assumes I remain in good health throughout – I also included a review of what happens if I – or my wife – were unwell and unable to work)
Where I’m going to live and how – one of my passions is regular visits to quality restaurants, and believe me this has cost implications!
Hobbies, pastimes, sports – if I’m going to climb Kilimanjaro, it’s probably best to attempt that before I reach 80!
Where, how often – specific destinations, methods and timescales. (One of my clients likes luxury cruises, another wants to buy a motorhome and explore the UK – each has its merits, but they’re likely to have significantly different cost implications).
What do I want to own, and by when? If I’d like to buy a second home, I’m going to have to consider how this is funded during my working life, as it’ll be difficult to get a mortgage once I retire. (Luckily I have no ambition to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini, but I do have clients that would like one – or more!).
Take some time (together with those important to you if appropriate) to think things through. Your list may contain some or all of the above points; it may contain less, but make it personal, honest and complete. Attach a timeline – some of your objectives will be achieved in the short term, and some may be scheduled for after you retire, and this point hints at the importance of PROPER financial planning – many of your objectives (but not all) are likely to involve expenditure, and you’ll need to know you have the cash available at the right time, to be able to achieve your goals.