Many financial problems are caused by a lack of planning, and the reason why many people can’t bring wealth into their lives is a lack of planning, too. Someone who launches into investing without a plan may be excited at first by the idea of buying dividend producing stocks. After that idea loses its sparkle, that person might read a bit more and discover index funds. Future stops and starts continue to wreck any hope of getting ahead.
Knowing all your options is the most important part of planning. Before you start out building wealth, you need to come up with a plan (preferably written) for a number of areas:
- Am I prepared to eliminate debt from my life? How will I do it?
- Do I have adequate protection in place for myself and my family – wills, insurance, taxes and
- Do I have an investment strategy? Am I going to invest in the market, in real estate or in other
alternative investments? What are my options?
- Is my current lifestyle reasonable, or can I save money without compromising my happiness?
- Does my work complement my goals or hold me back?
And most importantly:
- Why do I want to be wealthy? To give back? To have financial freedom? To support my business?
Often when people are young they don’t feel the need for planning. If you are young enough to feel that you have time to recover from your mistakes, you may think planning is a waste of time compared to “doing.” Yet at the same time making mistakes due to a lack of planning can come back to haunt you for years: failing to plan to manage your finances, your career or even your health or personal life can have long-lasting effects.
If there is any area of your financial life where you feel that things aren’t going well, take a step back and consider whether you have a plan. I recently started to wonder whether my investment strategy was well-thought out. I’ve been an investor in the stock market since high school, but I have never looked into or even seriously considered other avenues as they became available – real estate or alternative investments like Prosper or buying into businesses. Now that I’m interested in these areas, I am creating a plan; not because I’m tentative or have doubts about my ability to succeed, but because I know that with a plan I will succeed.
Steve S. is the author of Brip Blap, a blog about personal finance, health, career management, productivity and self-improvement. He lives and works as a contract governance and audit consultant in the New York City area, and has lived in Germany and Russia. He is an active lender at Prosper.