We all want to be responsible and efficient when it comes to finances. But how? Where should you start and what should be done? Instead of starting from scratch, I recommend you follow an easy routine. Take the 8 small steps below each month. They won’t take you more than 10-30 minutes and will pay dividends well into the future.
Some people, like me, enjoy the financial process itself, but if you don’t, we don’t blame you. It’s easy to ignore or delay your financial homework. Unfortunately, small procrastinations and lack of decisions can really hurt you down the road. To combat that anti-momentum, try building some anticipation. Think about a positive outcome of getting your finances in order. How about a big upcoming trip, a future education payment to an exciting institution, an investment in a promising new company, or a new suit or dress that you’ve had your eye on for a while? Pick your goal and keep it in mind.
What’s on your mind financially? Ask yourself: Do I feel in control? Do I feel like I have enough money? Do I feel like the pool of capital is shrinking, or growing? Am I spending too much? This isn’t about facts, it’s about your senses and emotions of what’s happening in your financial life. Write down a few phrases about where you feel you currently are, financially speaking.
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Have you been meaning to review your overall investment allocation? Or make a call to your old 401k provider to roll over your 401k? Or read the stack of papers you’ve been saving related to your largest holding? Have you been meaning to calculate your annual retirement contribution? Whatever it is, get that done first so you get that much closer to your financial objectives.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Do you have a financial dashboard? The Osbon portal provides 24/7/365 reporting on all assets regardless of location for our clients. That helps you with performance, allocation and taking stock of your current assets. The other important measure is to understand your cash flows in order to know your burn rates and savings rates. Technology makes this much easier, much more precise and far less time consuming. I happily pay $30/month for Quickbooks Essentials for the ability to easily and instantly run profit loss and balance sheet reports. Treat yourself like a business, only with R&D relabeled as education and tuition expenses, for example.
You’re not alone. Send a quick note to your investment advisor, accountant, trusts and estate lawyer, or other trusted advisor. If you ask one good question a month, you’ll learn a great deal in a year’s time. Nothing is too small.
Think about this: What’s the worst event that could reasonably happen to my investments and/or cash flow? Write down the concern along with a quick plan of what you’re going to do to address it.
Thank yourself for your superb organization and strategic planning skills. Celebrate that you’re that much closer to the item you named in step #1.
Max Osbon – firstname.lastname@example.org