Ah, the new year! It's a chance to hit the "reset" button; to make a fresh run at those things we'd like to do better. And for many of us, financial planning is at or near the top of the list.
First question: Do you have a budget in place? Are you tracking what goes in and out of your account each month? Creating a personal financial plan can be the next step. If you know the "what, why, and when" of your savings, it becomes easier to formulate a financial plan that puts money away for that ultimate dream—whether it’s traveling the world, giving back to your community, or helping your children graduate from college debt-free.
Financial planning takes into account your long-term life goals and helps you create a plan to achieve them. And if you need extra motivation, here's something: a TD Ameritrade Goal Planning Survey revealed that those with a plan are more confident and have set higher goals for retirement.
Do Take It Personally
Many investors find that selecting tangible goals can actually help them reach their objectives. Knowing what your goals are can help you make better decisions and encourage you to be more vigilant about managing investments.
One person’s dream may be a short-term financial goal, such as buying a boat or other luxury item. Another might dream of putting children through college or retiring by a certain age.
“Setting an investing goal is the first step in any client's financial journey,” said Keith Denerstein, director of guidance product management at TD Ameritrade. “Having concrete lifestyle goals, such as putting the children through college or retiring at a certain age, can help investors focus more closely on what they really want to achieve, and send them on the road toward their life milestones.”
Understanding your ultimate goal can also help you through whatever type of stormy weather the market might bring. Many believe one of the biggest mistakes a long-term investor can make is getting out of his or her investments when the market turns down. One of the keys to long-term investing is staying invested. Knowing why you’re investing can give you the fortitude to hang in there.
“Cash can provide security and peace of mind, but it ultimately won’t compound at a rate you need to cover future needs—things that a lot of millennials might not have on their minds now, such as the cost of their own children’s education,” said Patrick O’Hare, chief market analyst at Briefing.com.
Need help setting your financial goals? TD Ameritrade offers a complimentary goal planning session with a Financial Consultant to help get you started with setting up an actionable plan for your future.
Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can plot a financial road map to help steer you there. That means coming up with the hard numbers, as in how much you need, when you need it, and whether the goal is attainable.
In other words, be SMART about your financial goals—make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Things to keep in mind while setting financial goals include: (1) the time horizon—meaning how much time you want to take to achieve your goal; (2) the amount of money you plan to start with; (3) the amount of money you’ll need to contribute each month; and (4) how these goals may fit in with your risk tolerance as an investor.
Working with a financial consultant who provides access to solutions such as products, tools, research, and guidance may help increase your confidence in meeting goals. A financial consultant can help you develop a plan that defines a strategy, timeline, and potential solutions that can help you pursue these objectives. But some investors prefer to plan these things themselves.
Having both a personal and financial goal can help you plot a path to the future, and can give you the motivation you need to sacrifice now to help make your ultimate dreams a bit more achievable.