Have you ever been caught by surprise?
Don’t get caught by surprise! Life can be unpredictable, right? It is the little things that can catch us off-guard and really derail our progress and plans. But how can we plan for something that we are not sure will happen? Well, there are several ways to mitigate disaster and protect ourselves from the inevitability of life’s twists and turns. First and foremost, it involves taking every opportunity to think, plan, save and organize while you are young and have little responsibility.
Let’s take it down to a few simple steps.
1. Think, Think, Think:
Take every opportunity possible to give serious thought to the following questions, which parlay directly into your future stability, and warrant deep contemplation as to your future:
- What kind of life do you want to lead? Are you likely to want to travel the world, or are you a homebody? Do you like simple things or are you a bit extravagant? Those who want to travel need to take into consideration the great amount of resources required to do so. You want to give serious thought towards maximizing your 401(k) plan, IRA contributions, and/or taking on a side hustle will help to fund these endeavors later in life.
- Are you healthy? Do you have any conditions that may require special care or expense, and will this increase as you age? These are important questions.
- Do you have children? What kind of life do you want to provide for them? Most importantly, what kind of example do you want to set? We all adore our children and want to set them up for the brightest future possible, and they are looking directly at you for guidance, even if you think they aren’t.
- Are you married? Is your spouse financially stable and does he or she plan for unexpected expenses? You need to find out, and plan accordingly. You should always assume you will need to support yourself, but in particular if they are not responsible with money, you need to be. Same goes for a business partner.
2. Plan, Plan, Plan:
- Prepare: A detailed, step by step action plan. Write down all of your thoughts about the above questions to create a tangible resource for setting objectives, and a source sheet for goals.
- Tackle: It’s go time – for systematic achievement of objectives. Starting with the must haves and moving through to wants, needs and long term goals, execute tasks in a way that lays down a fundamental order.
- Collaborate: Find professionals who understand your needs and objectives, and actively learn while getting things done.
- Maintain: Sustain comprehensive resources for referral as time goes on.
Now it is time to take ACTION. This involves only two steps!
3. Save, Save, Save:
First, think Cash vs. Cash Flow: Which do you have more of? There is a big difference, and your plans should change depending on the answer.
Cash Flow: Good for you. While you are raking it in, take advantage of every opportunity imaginable to save money, especially while young and energetic. You never know when that pipeline may dry up if you get laid off, fired or decide to take a reprieve to travel or even care for a loved one. Do without wants, and focus on needs.
Cash: Awesome. Seek advice from a sound financial planner to make the most of what you have saved. You never know when an unexpected expense could drain it quickly, and you want to have a smart plan in place.
Last, if your company has a 401(k) plan, you MUST contribute, and if they do not have a plan, create a savings program of your own. Seek out advice from an accountant as to the best way for you to master taking advantage of available tax codes for your retirement. It will be here sooner than you think!
Food (Coffee?) For Thought:
You know that coffee you buy every day from Starbucks or other bougey cafe? Did you know that if you took that $5.00 when you are in your early twenties and every day put it in the bank instead, you would have a small fortune when you are older? Remember our little chat about cash and cash flow. Which matters most to you now? What will matter most to you later?
Suze Orman, one of my favorite financial gurus, states “If you waste money on coffee, it is like peeing $1 million down the drain:
“Let’s say you spend around $100 on coffee each month. If you were to put that $100 into a Roth IRA instead, after 40 years the money would have grown to around $1 million with a 12 percent rate of return. Even with a seven percent rate of return, you’d still have around $250,000.
Similarly, Kevin O’Leary, one of my favorite Sharks from Shark Tank, tells CNBC’s Make It:
“Do I pay $2.50 for a coffee? Never, never, never do I do that. That is such a waste of money for something that costs 20 cents. I never buy a frape-latte-blah-blah-woof-woof-woof for $2.50. He still drinks one cup every morning: “It costs 18 cents to make it and I invest the rest.” Before making any purchase, in fact, he asks himself, “Do I really need this?” Because, he says, “if I don’t buy it, the money is going to be invested and make money every year while I’m sleeping.”
4. Organize, Organize, Organize:
Let’s get those papers in order. How do you know what you’re missing if you can’t even see it? All the savings above will be for naught if you don’t have your ducks in a row and understand YOUR big picture. Let’s break it down into simple steps:
1. Sort your expenses according to broad categories – Collate several stacks as they relate to your day to day personal, business and social niche, wants, needs, finances and responsibilities:
This means bills and vendors, accounting and finances, medical and personal, invoices and receipts. First needs, then wants. Organize them and create categories, files or piles for each. Tax related? Make sure they go in a separate file.
2. Further break it down – create files and labels for each, while sorting in both chronological and alphabetical order:
Parse out specific bills and invoices and situations/issues; break out financials into date order; alphabetize vendors or clients; and so on.
3. Remember this important detail:
Create a data sheet with an outline and notes for every important file. Include contacts, passwords, highlights, important points to remember, anything memorable that you would want at your fingertips when dealing with this situation going forward. Don’t hesitate to jot down superfluous details which may seem innocuous at the time but might trigger an action or lessen confusion upon later reflection. Now, when you reach for it, these important notes will be right in front of you.
Now that you are organized: From here you can scan individual files to a flash drive or other digital format, furthering goals for security and organizational optimization.
We cannot plan for every situation in life, but we can plan for inevitabilities:
Illness, death, moving, unexpected expenses, daily stressors, and enjoying life, family and friends.
Above all, plan to spend time doing what you truly – taking those trips, going out to those lunches, or taking a walk in the park on a day when you may have otherwise had to work. You will need time off, and you will need a break. More and more as you get older, these things are our inevitabilities. Personally, I will always want to work in any capacity I am able. I enjoy what I do too much to imagine otherwise.
However, as time continues its daily march, I know I will want to be able to sit back and enjoy the little things that really matter. In the interim, it is time to work…and to that end, consider the benefit of a strategic ally with an a-la-carte approach to administration and organization.
Final Thoughts and Forward Thinking: Don’t get caught by surprise.
Seek help in navigating the complexities of laying a proper foundation, checking off fundamentals and forward thinking your strategic plan for life’s twists and turns. There is support that will help you be at your most productive – so you can focus on what you do best, and not get caught off guard.
Laura Milo DeAngelis | Owner and Founder | Bergen Concierge Service LLC
www.bergen-concierge.com • 201-303-7301 • firstname.lastname@example.org