Pressing daily money matters have a tendency to take over personal financial concerns, often eclipsing other aspects of effective cash flow management. And naturally so, since regular day to day spending is what keeps your household operating smoothly. As important as functional concerns are, however, there is more to successful financial than simply accommodating daily demands. On the contrary, short and long-range planning are integral to comprehensive financial strategies.
Planning is an individualized pursuit, accounting for the particulars facing each money manager. Despite personal differences, however, common ground is shared among many financial planners. As you craft and adjust your financial master plan, look to personal milestones for guidance, helping you anticipate your personal spending obligations, at various stages of your life. The following flow illustrates common steps people take when planning for monetary milestones.
Establish Financial Independence
Early-on, your financial life is largely defined by your parents’ strategies managing money. At a certain point, however, young adults strike-out on their own, transitioning into independent financial roles. For the best results getting established, adopt a conscientious, deliberate strategy for building credit and financial independence.
In addition to a checking and savings account, your early credit life may include an introductory or prepaid credit card. Effectively managing balances is a must for making positive credit impressions. And you can also build credibility by making good on other financial arrangements, such as mobile phone contracts, utility accounts, and car payments. Each success builds on the next, so it is particularly important to stay on track at a young age, laying the groundwork for healthy and stable finances.
Student loans are another stepping-stone to financial independence, representing most college students’ first major investment. Staying current with payments and putting borrowed funds to good use are two early financial victories, paying lifelong dividends.
It is never too early to begin setting aside resources for the future. Even if contributions are relatively small, saving from a young age gives the money time to grow, resulting in compound gains, over the years. As life unfolds and opportunities appear on the horizon, financial objectives become clearer, giving young earners incentives to save for specific purchases. Home ownership, for example, becomes more realistic as income levels rise and savings facilitate down payments. When plans begin to firm-up, a dedicated savings account facilitates growing a down payment. In the meantime, planning for a home purchase gives you ample time to research market trends, sale prices, neighborhoods, and other important aspects of this life-changing, big-ticket purchase.
In addition to buying a house, savings efforts may be steered toward other closely-held financial goals. Among them, retirement planning is most effective when launched at a young age. Rising earning power and income security help accelerate retirement contributions later in life, but early retirement planning gets you started on the right foot.
Prepare for Family Life
Home-buying is a nest-building effort, commonly reflecting young adults’ growing families or their desire to have children in the future. In addition to a roof over your head, family investments might include:
- Start-up costs for a family business
- Medical care and childbirth expenses
- Education savings
- Child-rearing expenditures
Managing debt also becomes increasingly important as children add to your family size. As families grow, prudent planning addresses burgeoning debt balances and protects credit strength with timely payments on existing obligations.
Reconcile Retirement Concerns
Retirement planning doesn’t begin late in life. On the contrary, an early start yields the best results. As retirement age nears, however, attention turns to preparedness, sometimes showing planners they are short on resources. Before leaving the workforce, you may need to redouble your efforts to save and invest, making-up for past deficiencies. But without a proper plan guiding your efforts getting ready for retirement; you might miss the chance to catch up.
Financial planning boosts stability and contributes to ongoing financial security. Starting with your earliest transactions and credit relationships, a proactive plan protects your interests and helps you achieve your monetary objectives as quickly as possible. When in doubt, use personal financial milestones to shape your long-term plan, focusing on important benchmarks, like home-ownership, family life, and retirement needs.