Setting goals are important and often used to measure success. However, simply setting goals does not ensure you will someday accomplish them. Achieving goals requires establishing a plan. Planning is important to ensure a direction for your day-to-day actions. Being deliberate about establishing a plan can help guide the decisions you make to aid you in reaching your goals. The further your goals are from today, the more important it is to have a plan to ensure your success in reaching those goals.
When it comes to personal financial goals, many can be long term. Paying off student loans, a new car, or a mortgage on a home does not happen in a month or even a year. Retirement is an even longer-term goal. When it comes to financial matters, planning can be of paramount importance.
Creating a personal financial plan has six basic steps:
- Determine your current financial situation
- Develop your financial goals
- Identify alternative courses of action
- Evaluate alternatives
- Create and implement your financial action plan
- Review and revise the financial plan
It is never too early to begin planning. In fact, the earlier you begin planning for your financial future, the sooner you will reach your goals. Because of the nature of interest and compounding that can be associated with investing, starting early can have great benefits. The longer your investments have to grow, the greater their growth will be. For instance, if you invest $5,000 today and receive a 6% annual compounding interest rate, your investment will grow to approximately $10,000 within 12 years. Within 24 years, the $5,000 investment would grow to $20,000 and within 36 years to $40,000. While a $5,000 investment at that rate made at age 48 would only grow to $10,000 by age 60, the same investment made at age 24 would grow to four times that value by the same age. As you can see, it can certainly be advantageous to get started planning for your financial future as early as possible.