It is tough to watch the Dallas Cowboys lose another game and not question what is going wrong. The Cowboys' roster has talent through the roof of Jerry Jones' multi-million dollar stadium, a coaching staff with numerous accolades, and a clear desire to win, yet they seem to fall short in big games. While watching this week's game, it made me wonder about the extensive game plan the coach formulated to try to win. With any big game approaching, it always proves more fruitful and much less stressful to have a plan in place to achieve a positive end result. Just like a coach prepares for a game, it is critical to have a plan in place for the financial aspect of your life to be victorious by accomplishing your goals.Growing up I was always reminded by my father that "most people do not plan to fail, they fail to plan", which he would smoothly follow-up up with "plan your work, then work your plan". Naturally, as any good son does, I did not listen and was able to experience the failing side of goal setting quite often. Those little phrases are of importance when it comes to paying off debt, saving enough for a large purchase, or figuring out just how much you need to enjoy your dream retirement. Your plan should be the linchpin of your financial wheel, and a good plan has various avenues for success to maneuver through any unexpected twists and turns. Those unforeseen speed bumps in life can add an insurmountable amount of stress. The American Psychological Association reports that money is the perennial leading cause of stress in Americans¹, but getting started on your goals early can mitigate and even eliminate the unnecessary stress.
Start with a sheet of paper, or the back of a bar napkin, or create a note on your smartphone – whatever the medium, just start. It is easy to become stalemated with fear thinking about your financial picture or some long-lost retirement date, but focus on small, short-term goals to kick-start your financial journey. With technology these days, it is easy to create an automatic draft to a savings account and even easier to track spending through the hundreds of personal finance apps. Saving money early can be challenging, but consider this the next time you think you can put it off another year or so: you will accumulate more wealth by age 58 by saving a constant rate for 10 years from age 18-28 than saving the same rate for 30 years from age 28-58². Write down what you are saving for and what amount you want to have saved at a specific date. Remember that each dollar saved is not only investing in your financial goals but also your personal well-being.
Once you have mastered the short-term, then look further ahead to build a bigger picture and make your plan detailed and flawless. Filling in all the blanks might take a bigger bar napkin, but it is essential to increase your overall health and likelihood of achieving your dreams. To create, implement, and monitor a well-rounded financial plan comes down to your drive, knowledge, and time. Lacking in even one of those areas can be harmful to achieving your goals. Remember, a fool-proof plan is just that until it isn't, and a professional financial advisor can safeguard against failing to meet financial goals while boosting your quality of life. It takes football coaches years of fine-tuning and critiquing each aspect of their team to create an effective game plan, but it is necessary to win games. Just like a football coach, a professional financial advisor can address your immediate, mid- and long-term goals so that you can quarterback the life that you have always dreamed—without financial limitations.
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