Welcome back! How did it go with your goals setting? Did your goals come easy to you or did you have to think about them for a bit? Was there an area you were more focused on than another? As for me, I jotted mine down kind of quickly and was like “Boom, that was easy!”. Then I reviewed them and as it turns out, it wasn’t that easy. I went back a few times and had to revamp them each time because most of them weren’t S.M.A.R.T. (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). Some of them didn’t have a timeline while others weren’t quite realistic for the time line I did have with them. I had a quite a few goals but they all revolved around 2 areas: emergency fund and retirement.
Then I started thinking and had a conversation with myself, it went as so, “Do I need to include more areas to focus on especially when my initial goals are achieved? But what areas do I need to look at? Hmmmmm. Oh yeah, the order of operations, definitely need to review that before starting my financial plan.” Yes, I often carry on conversations with myself…I call it a business meeting! Anyways, before I go onto the next step, I would like to take a minute and review the order of operations recommended for financial planning with you.
What is order of operations? Well, it’s just a big fancy way of saying what order things need to get done in. There are several out there in regards to finance but for today’s article, I’m going to discuss two of them from a few financial guru’s as there is not one which I completely agree with. One of the major reasons why I don’t agree completely with them is a simple one, they just don’t completely fit my life. However, I have learned from them and have improved my own finances by using them.
The first one is one of the more well-known orders out there and it’s by Dave Ramsey called “7 Baby Steps”. If you are starting at ground zero, I would highly recommend checking it out from the library as he goes into detail on how to achieve each step. (Yes, the library especially if you are strapped for cash. Most libraries will have it and it’s free!) The steps go as follow:
Save $1000 for your starter emergency fund
Pay off all debt except house using the snowball effect. He recommends starting with the lower balances first to “achieve some wins”.
Save 3-6 months in your emergency fund
Invest 15% of household income to retirement
Save for children’s college education
Pay off your home early
Build wealth & give
Here’s a link to his site: https://www.daveramsey.com/dave-ramsey-7-baby-steps
The other order of operations I’d like to cover comes from Abound Wealth which is a financial company. They have a podcast I enjoy listening to called The Money Guy Show. Their steps do slightly differ than Ramsey’s and they go as follow:
Deductibles covered: having enough to cover basic medical expenses
Match from employers: if your company offers a match, take full advantage of it as it is free money.
Credit cards: focusing on the higher interest rate ones first, which is differ than Ramsey’s.
Emergency reserve: save 3-6 months of living expenses.
Roth and HSA contributions: these are tax-free growth.
Max out retirement options.
Hyper-accumulation: saving at a higher percentage like 15-20%.
Pre-paid future expenses: example would be car payment if you pay it once a year.
Debt prepayment: having enough saved up to pay for any unforeseen future expenses so you won’t go in debt.
They have an episode on this topic both on their podcast and on their YouTube channel. You can find the links to them here: https://www.moneyguy.com/2018/08/financial-order-of-operations-how-to-prioritize-your-financial-goals/
Now that we have gone over a few orders of operations, I want you to take a look at your goals again and see if you need to revamp them in some way. Is there a new goal you would like to add? You do not need to follow any of the above listed exactly but rather use them as a general guideline.
Homework time! First, like I mentioned above, review your goals to see if you need to revamp them in some way. Then, I want you to put them in order, putting the ones you want to start with at the top. This doesn’t mean that you need to complete one before starting the next. In fact, you can start on two at the same time, I’ll be doing that. By putting them in order, it will help you see what is most important to you or what you think will be the easiest to complete. Sometimes, having one of the easiest goals at the beginning gives you a sense of accomplishment and increases your motivation to continue towards achieving all your goals. In addition, having them in order will help you create a plan and put it in motion.
Remember, you can only control what’s in your reach. With the economy in disarray like it is due to COVID-19, well, you can’t control that but you can control and focus on your own finances. You can change them one day at a time!
If you have any questions, or would just like to share your goals and plans with me and/or others, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message me on Facebook. (I will NOT use your email for any type of mailer list or spam!!)
You can find Financially Fit Part 1 here: https://www.bodyandmindstrong.com/post/are-you-where-you-want-to-be-financially