Clear Direction for Your Retirement: The 30 Day Challenge: 5 Steps to Kick Financial Complacency
I hope your New Year is off to a great start. Have you done any goal setting for this year? How about action plans? Do you find yourself, as many do, simply in a place of complacency? I want to offer your some time tested advice from someone who truly wants you to climb out from under what-ever financial, emotional or spiritual rock you’ve been hiding under and move on.
The politics of our day and the general condition of the world give us plenty of reason for concern. Concern can also be translated into stress and worry, which has all sorts of ugly effects on our health, relationships and money decisions. Through the decades of your life there have always been periods of turmoil – and yet somehow you’ve survived. If you believe as I do, our job is to keep moving forward, trust in something (Someone) bigger than ourselves and to do so with the specific intent of making this world a better place when we leave it as compared to when we found it.
So when you finally come to the place in your life where the pain of staying where you are is greater than the pain of changing, I offer a simple roadmap for effecting that change this year – right now! Since my bailiwick is financial planning perhaps the context of these points can relate to getting out of debt, saving more money, getting serious about retirement, or just a simple annual financial ‘tune-up’ for the new year. But they work just the same for losing weight, getting in shape, or improv-ing relationships in your life.
I offer these as ‘Five Steps to a Brighter 2023’.
- Discover where you are financially
How much do you spend, earn, owe, and own? Count it and write it down.
- Set Goals
Such as ‘Get out of debt by…’, ‘save$5000 this year’, ‘retire in 24 months’.
- Get a Plan
A goal without a plan is nothing more than a wish. Wishes seldom come true without action.
- Commit to the Plan
Commitment is so much easier when it’s foundation is in the first three steps. Your “New Year’s Resolutions” will fail again this year because you haven’t backed them up with steps one through three. Don’t be complacent.
- Set Goals
- Review Often
This keeps you on track and holds you accountable to stay the course.
30 Day Launch
Of all five of the steps to improving your year financially, step ONE is the most important. It sets everything in motion and launches you into a discovery mode that will produce huge rewards.
By the way, you’ll notice the absence of the ‘B’-word in my steps. What, no ‘budget’? Nope. I’m relying on what I think I’ve come to understand about the human mind. You see, most readers of this article will find it interesting, but have no real intent on making a life-changing metamorphosis. They are the ones who want more infor-mation and want to make another budget. However, for those who really want to retire, or really want to get out from under the burden of debt – they’ll just begin. For them, the pain of staying where they are is much greater than the pain of changing their habits. If that is you, congratulations – you’re ‘there’!
When you change your habits, you’ll change your life. If your habit is doing another budget but never acting on it, you won’t change. Experts tell us that change can occur in 30 days. Step One is really the most significant, as I’ve said. Over the years, I’ve read about and seen many really uninspiring methods of helping folks get a handle on their spending. Hands down, the most impactful and life-changing technique I’ve ever used is this: write down every single cent that you spend for the next thirty days. Buy a small pocket notebook for each of you (if married) or download one of a number of phone apps that allow you to keep this info. After seven days you’ll be amazed at where your money goes. In two weeks you’ll have already shamed yourself into beginning a change in spending ‘habits’. At the end of thirty days, come together (in a truce) and see where your money is going. I doubt anyone will have to say any more to you. You’ll see that which is holding you back.
Why should a hopeful retiree, young or old, go through this drill? Because the single biggest determinant of whether you’ll be able to retire AND stay retired comes down to this number. I have clients with millions whose funds aren’t going to last them as long as others with tens of thousands into retirement. Your lifestyle priorities, as evi-denced by your spending ‘habits’, is
the greatest single factor in your savings’ longevity. I suggest that you spend the next thirty days and discover what this number is for you. It is truly mission critical.
Once you’ve identified where your spending is going, it’ll be much easier to make priority decisions about how to allocate the resources that you have. So moving to Step Two becomes possible – you have something quantitative with which to set the goal. Feel free to correspond if I can be of assistance on your thirty day journey; I’d like to hear and help your success story.