It’s the most wonderful time of the year – annual goal review season!
I love the end-of-year review process. I feel lucky that this is part of my job as a financial coach. Helping my clients track their progress and celebrate their successes is THE BEST!
On a personal note, looking back at what I set out to accomplish and celebrating the progress I have made is oh so rewarding. This year in particular.
2016 was a big year for me.
I set a lot of goals for myself – 27 to be exact – across three categories: health, wealth and happiness. One of my wealth / career goals was to attend at least one networking event per month, as a guest or as a speaker. My intention was to get to know the women I am hoping to serve (you know, the whole “go where your clients are” kind of thing).
How did I do?
Pretty darn well. I almost doubled my goal, attending 22 events, speaking at 15 of them and hosting four myself. And, I got to know a lot of women. Women of different ages and in a variety of career paths. Interestingly, many of them have something in common: they feel worried about their financial situation and uncertain if they are on the right track.
The struggle is real! Financial adulting can be really hard, at any age. Especially if you’re not sure about what you’re doing and where you’re going.
So in today’s Q&A blog post, I’m sharing one of the most common questions I heard this year all about just that.
Have 5 seconds? Here’s my take on what you need to know:
I hate to disappoint you, but it’s impossible to tell you how much you should have in the bank right now without knowing your goals. That’s a question of math: how much will you need in the future, how many years do you have to save, and how much can you save each year?
The answer will be different for everyone depending on what they want out of life. While I can’t tell you exactly how much you should have saved by now, I can tell you this:
By this point in your life, you should know what you want, have a clearly-defined goal and a plan for how you’re going to accomplish it.
Have 5 minutes? Here’s what else you should know:
All that being said, there are five key milestones that you must reach in order to officially make the transition into financial adulthood.
1. You pay your own bills.
It’s a blessing to receive gifts and extra help for big purchases like a down payment or a wedding, but on a day-to-day basis you are the sole funder of your lifestyle.
2. You pay yourself first.
Ideally you save between 10-20% of your after-tax income, but even as little as 1-5% demonstrates that you know how to spend less than you earn.
3. You are debt-free.
Excluding your mortgage, that is. If you are currently carrying credit card or student debt, having a written plan for how you will pay it off is the first step to achieving this milestone.
4. You invest your savings, intentionally.
You have written down your investment goals, understand your investor profile, have an investing strategy and know why you are holding each of your investments. Sounds like a lot of work but you can accomplish all this in a single meeting with a financial professional. (Hello, it’s me! *smiles and waves*)
5. You have insurance.
I’m all for being optimistic but it’s important to have a plan for the worst-case scenario. Almost everyone needs income insurance (aka disability insurance) in case you aren’t able to work for an extended period of time. If you have debt or dependents you need life insurance as well.
Reading this list might make you feel icky if you can’t check off all these milestones right now. For those of you who need help making the leap into financial adulthood, you’re not alone. (I did too.)
Take a deep breath and repeat:
“I will do something today that my future self will thank me for.”
What about you? What’s one goal – financial or otherwise – that you’ve reached this year? Tell me about it in the comments below and I’ll celebrate with you!!