I got asked today ‘how do you have the discipline to diet?’.
Since I was eating a Bounty at that moment, I’m not sure why. (To be fair, it was a piece of someone else’s Bounty, so there are obviously no calories.)
My response was that it’s easier if you have a reason. In my case, it’s so I can compete in powerlifting in a lower weight class.
It’s the same with money. Another friend asked me, ‘What if you just can’t save?’. To which I answered the same thing: you need a reason.
AKA: a goal.
Goals, I know! So lame and hard and too much like adulting.
I’m not a massive goal-setter myself, but I have forced myself to create some clarity about where I’m going. So then I know how to get there.
Just before you get bored and switch off, let me offer you a gift. We’ll come back to it shortly.
Click here to download your printable A4 worksheet
Why do you need a worksheet?
So we can put the ‘plan’ into financial planning.
I know, a lot of people don’t trust financial planners. There are good and bad ones, just like any other profession. We’ve all had a hairdresser who takes ‘just a trim‘ and turns it into ‘radical hair makeover so you look like a lesbian biker‘. (Don’t get me wrong, I love lesbian bikers – I just don’t necessarily want their haircuts).
However, I’ve been having a conversation with a mate who’s a financial planner, and he messes with my head because he’s all about ‘plans’.
I would ask him ‘should I buy a property to live in or invest in’ and he was all like ‘well, what’s your plan?’.
I don’t know! I’m in my late 30s, divorced, childless. So far, all the ‘plans’ I made 10 years ago haven’t really turned out.
But that doesn’t mean I can get away without one. Without some goals, I don’t know where to put my money or how much to save.
And if you don’t know the destination, how will you know the how to get there?
Sometimes, choosing the destination is the hard bit
People often ask me about what to with their money. I can’t tell them specifically (partly because I’m not licensed so it’s illegal). But I do ask them ‘what’s the goal’?.
Is it saving enough for a property? Is it having enough to travel? Maybe it’s just being a bad-arse with a backpack and a round-the-world ticket (oh hey Betsy, how’s Iceland?).
Tactics are useless without a strategy. And a strategy is nothing without a goal.
If you’re like me though, you find big life planning stuff daunting at best, terrifying at worst. But don’t worry, Fierce Girls, I got ya.
I came up with questions to help you create some clarity. And then I made a fucking worksheet! I know, I am crafty AF.
Doing the worksheet
Now, you can do this and not necessarily come up with a special number. You know, a savings goal or something. That’s a topic for another day.
But you will think critically about the factors that shape your decisions. So the questions in the worksheet are (and you can totally pick the timeframe that applies to you):
- Where do you want to be __ years from now?
- What things do you want to experience?
- How will you spend your time? Who with?
- What will you own?
- What is a must-do or must-have?
- What can you give up or cut back?
- What is the ‘why’?
When I did this exercise, I came up with a general plan that I don’t want to be a full-time, salaried employee much past my mid-fifties. I want to write books and hold workshops and coach people and be generally useful. I also want to travel as much as possible.
So that means I have about 15 years to build wealth, take holidays, smash a mortgage and sock away superannuation. Scary huh?
It also means I can give up expensive cars, too many clothes, and general unnecessary ‘stuff’. When I am considering a purchase, my decision tree is something like ‘Could I better spend this money on my trip next year?’ or ‘Wouldn’t I be better to chuck this into my mortgage?’.
Of course I won’t be perfect. But I have a plan and sense of direction. And then everything else is easier from there. Try it yourself!
Next week: The Track Your Spend challenge: finding where your money goes and working out how to save more of it. Yep. I’m gonna make another worksheet. It will be amazing.