Planning for your future is simple
Planning for your future is simple: do you believe that?
Most people think it is important — but only a few actually do it. There is a hesitancy for many people — either caused by putting it off, or being scared to do it, or not knowing how to get started.
There are all sorts of reasons (perhaps “excuses” is a better word). We want to do it, but we suspect that our inability to save in our current situation will only highlight how poorly prepared we are.
We're living paycheque to paycheque, our expenses are running away from us, we are behind on school fees, our credit card has become a scary place to visit. We are not living — we are surviving (just). We spend a good part of the day, including the “at work” hours worrying about our finances. We go to bed at night still working out how to keep Peter at bay, while hoping to keep Paul off our backs.
Regrettably there are many (many) people in our community with this dilemma. It's not nice. There are simply too many trees in our forest to make headway. One step forward at the beginning of the month. One step sideways in the middle of the month then one step backwards at the end of the month when the bills are due (again).
Is there an answer? A solution? A way forward?
There is no magic formula to create new money overnight. There is no magic money tree in your yard. There is no rich uncle about to drive by your house and throw in bags full of cash. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
But there are ways to catch your breath, pause, take stock, and readjust your spending patterns. Or at the very least understand where your money comes from, where it goes and what changes you can make to distribute it better. It may take sacrifice of course, but if it helps you to sleep better at night, would you try it?
Understanding your personal budget — both income and expenses — is a good place to start.
They always would say, “It's not rocket science”. I must admit I never understood that phrase — mainly because I only wanted to fix my budget, not fly to the moon. If I had wanted to fly to the moon, I perhaps would have invented a new phrase: “It's the money stupid, the money.” I could have been famous.
Back to reality.
If you don't know where you are financially today, then you have little chance (make that none) of knowing where you want to be five or ten or twenty years from now — and even less chance of knowing how to get there.
Use the spreadsheet on your laptop — or the back of an envelope. Regardless of how you record your numbers the secret is easy — start now and don't cheat. Don't fudge how many cups of coffee you buy each week, or that those new shoes were just a treat to yourself because “you deserve them”.
It's your money and you can spend it any way you want, but if it means you have nothing left month over month, maybe it's time to rethink the situation.
Get a hold of all your numbers, get them written down, check them twice, review them at the end of the month, then do it all over again next month. You will begin to see what your spending pattern looks like up close and personal.
That's your starting point. Go for it.
Finally I am reminded of that other “moon phrase”: “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Yes, he really did insert the “a” — we just never heard it properly).
Take that first small step for yourself and help your future.
• Bill Storie is CEO of The Olderhood Group Ltd, a Bermudian-domiciled and owned company. Olderhood produces and hosts weekly webcasts about lifestyle and financial planning along with Martha Harris Myron. Details at http://www.olderhoodgroup.com/