Now we must start working out how to achieve our vision. This is where planning is so important. The old adage that if we fail to plan we plan to fail is as true for businesses as it is for personal circumstances.
Planning should be a clear process of identifying and dealing with obstacles (the subject of our next article) in order to achieve those profound goals we have identified. Don’t leap into buying products before you know where you are going and how you are going to get there. The art of financial life planning is to develop a financial architecture that is totally committed to supporting you in the achievement of your goals.
Financial products are useful, but they need to be the correct products to ensure that, throughout your life the right money is there for you in the right place at the right time.
When we plan it is important to remember that we should concentrate only on what we can control. There are powerful forces of change acting on us, most of which we can never control, or even influence. For instance, we cannot control stock markets, but we can control the asset allocation of our investment and pension portfolios. We cannot control interest rates, but we can reduce the impact of rising rates by minimising debt. We cannot control inflation, but we can control our expenditure. We cannot control our longevity and, indeed, few of us would wish to do so, but we can control the amount we save in our earlier years to ensure we have sufficient capital throughout our lives.
Planning is not just an academic exercise. It has the potential to deliver an authentic life free of the painful issues around money if we take the trouble to identify and deal with obstacles, fit products to our plans rather than vice versa, and plan only what we can control.