Welcome to part 4 of the ‘How to create a financial plan’ series. In this series of articles, we take you through 4 simple steps to put together your own financial plan. These steps are;
The first time I put together my financial plan, I was really excited. I felt that achieving the goals I’ve set out would be a piece of cake, simply because I had put together a detailed plan. However, after a couple months, I came to a realisation that I wasn’t any closer to achieving my financial goals and had in fact regressed over that time span. What I didn’t realise at the time was that regularly reviewing my plan was just as important as developing it.
Why is reviewing your goals regularly important? There are two main reasons I believe so:
Motivation and a sense of urgency:
Personal development guru Jim Rohn once said: “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value”. Substitute desire with financial goals and sense of urgency with motivation and the statement still stands. When you begin to review your plan regularly, you may notice that your motivation/sense of urgency to achieve your goals will continue to grow, regardless of whether you had a good month where you stuck to your plan or a bad month where things didn’t go according to plan.
In fact doing this may actually cause you to overachieve and reach your goals at a faster pace than planned, which I noticed to be the case with my goals. The psychological effect of wanting to reach my goals quicker is what pushed me.
Readjusting when necessary
You should look at your financial plan as a living document, which simply means you have the ability to change your strategies or adjust your financial goals, if necessary. This is important because our circumstances in life may change, you might decide to quit your job and start a startup for instance, or you may notice that you’re constantly failing to stick to one aspect of your financial plan which means you have to adjust your goal. Reviewing your goals regularly will mean that any change in your life will be reflected in your financial plan, therefore keeping it relevant and keeping you motivated.
Hopefully you’re convinced of the importance of regularly reviewing your financial plan. Now you’re wondering, how can I implement an effective system to do so? Well don’t worry I’m here for you. There are two simple steps that have helped my develop an effective system:
1. Find an Accountability Partner
An accountability partner is simply someone who holds you accountable for your goals and vice versa. They celebrate the small wins with you, they help you diagnose your struggles and also act as a source of motivation.
Why do you need an accountability partner? In a study by Psychology professors, it was found that 70% of the study’s participants who achieved their goals had accountability partners while the remaining 30% who didn’t achieve their goals kept it to themselves. Simply put, having to report your progress to others motivates you to act as nobody wants to lose face.
Who should be your accountability partner? There are a couple traits I looked for when deciding who should be my accountability partner;
- Trustworthiness: Personal finance is more personal than it is finance, so people tend to be very sensitive when it comes to discussing financial matters. For this reason you should ask yourself whether you trust this person enough to discuss your personal finance.
- Compatibility: Are you on the same page when it comes to the importance of achieving your financial goals and sticking to your financial plan as your accountability partner? Because this is a two-way relationship i.e. you’ll also be the persons accountability partner, so it’s important that being held accountable for financial matters is important to this person as well.
- Accessibility/Reliability: It’s important that you and your accountability partner are available for each other. If the person is known to ‘disappear’ for months on end then they aren’t reliable enough to be your accountability partner. The last thing you want is to set up a regular meeting with the individual where they constantly have to cancel. This will demotivate you in the long run.
2. Planning a regular financial meeting
A financial meeting simply refers to a meeting where you discuss everything to do with your personal finance with your accountability partner.
It’s relatively simply to set this up, once you’ve found your accountability partner, the only things you both have to decide are;
- How frequently you wish to meet.
- The exact date and/or time of your meeting,
- How you’re going to meet e.g. via a skype, at their house etc.
- The agreed format of your meeting e.g. will you both review the previous months budget and set up a new one for the following month? Or will you just discuss your worst purchases or will you talk about about new financial terms/concepts you’ve learnt? See the ‘What should you review in this meeting?’ section for more ideas of what you should be reviewing.
- (Optional) The consequences of failing to stick to your financial plan or achieve certain goals e.g. if you overspend on your budget you have to tweet ‘I failed my savings goal’, etc.
Once you and your accountability partner have decided on the criteria, you should write out these terms and have each other both sign it, think of it as your commitment contract. This idea of a commitment contract was first proposed by Dean Karlan, a Professor of Behavioral Economics at Yale University. He conducted a study where he found that people were significantly more successful if they signed a contract obliging them to achieve their goals.
This brings us to the end of the financial planning series. Hopefully by now you know how to create your own financial plan, you understand why you should review it regularly and have also learnt some effective techniques to help you review your plan regularly.
What should you review in this meeting?
In point 4 above, I mentioned that you and your accountability partner should decide on the format of the meeting. Here I’m going to give you a glimpse of what me and my accountability partner review when holding our meeting:
- Review our 3 key metrics: Net Worth, Cash Flow and Savings Rate. If any of these metrics are showing a negative trend (i.e. they’re less than the previous month) then we discuss why it happened and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Review financial goals. Both my accountability partner and I have developed our SMART financial goals, so we simply go over them to check if we’re on track.
- Investment opportunities: Luckily my accountability partner is even more financial savvy than I am so she shares a lot of new investment opportunities that she’s trying.
- Financial Education: Due to the fact that I blog about personal finance, I tend to read a lot of books and listen to podcasts about the space. My accountability partner is also an accountant and reads a lot about economic news, this means that we’re both constantly learning new concepts and we share these with each other.
So, that’s it for our financial planning series! We hope you’ve learnt enough to feel confident about putting your financial plan together. Now, I urge you all to start taking action to implement your financial plan and begin the steps to start living your dream life! If you enjoyed or learned anything from this post, please like it, share it and leave a comment! For more DailyKobo advice, click here to subscribe to our newsletter and don't be afraid to get in touch.