Goal planning for the year ahead
26 Dec 2018 | Back to Blog
With another year behind us and a new one looming ahead, now is the perfect time to take stock of where you are, relative to your financial goals. It’s a good time to take a look at how your investments have been doing and chart a course for the way ahead. If you’re on track at this point, you’ll want to plan to hit your targets again next year. If you’re not exactly where you want to be, it’s time to set goals for the coming year and map out how you’ll get there.
Regardless of how last year was for you, your considerations should be the same. Make note of the goals you had set for yourself which were directly and indirectly related to finances. Maybe you wanted to increase the size of your emergency fund or grow the value of your portfolio. How did you do? Did you take advantage of all the opportunities that arose? Could you have done better? Make sure you’re looking at actual numbers when making these evaluations.
If you set goals last year and haven’t quite made them a reality, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten people who set goals for the new year don’t quite get there. In many cases, this is because their goals are either too ambitious or too vague. If you’re among the few who have hit the targets you set for yourself this past year, first take a moment to celebrate. Pat yourself on the back or treat yourself — maybe even splurge a little. The vision and discipline it took to get to your goals should be applauded. It also helps to keep you motivated.
Next, take a little time to think about the big picture. What do you want your future to look like? Where do you want to be financially in five, ten or 25 years? What do you want for your family? What do you want your net worth and your portfolio to look like? Write down the big goals, then think through what you’ll need to do to get there in your desired time frame. Break them out into smaller goals that can happen in a year or less. Settle on what you want to achieve by the end of 2019.
Let’s say one of your goals is getting another degree. You can break that down into smaller goals like figuring out a reasonable budget, identifying an institution within that budget, researching your financing options to see how much you’ll need to come up with and what the payment schedule will be. Your goal for next year could be putting together the first year’s tuition.
When you set your money goals for next year, they should be realistic, specific and achievable. Resist the temptation to make a long list, as too many goals can seem daunting later on. It’s perfectly fine to have one goal for the year. Whatever you decide, make sure the list is one you’ll be able to manage, considering all the smaller tasks and milestones that make up those goals.
With next year’s goals set, it’s time to get specific about how you’ll make them happen.
- What level of return do you need to achieve on your investments?
- How much risk are you willing to take? How much risk are you able to take? Make sure you know the difference. Be honest here.
- What instrument types or asset classes do you want to invest in? How much cash/liquidity might you want to maintain in order to take advantage of opportunities when they arise?
- Do you have any constraints? Expenses you need to meet? Persons you need to support financially?
Write down your answers as well as any additional points that come to mind. This exercise should guide you to come up with some concrete points as the basis for your plan of action, including how to allocate your resources, and what kind of returns you need to make over the next 12 months.
Be sure to consider any hurdles or challenges you might encounter along the way. Think about what you would do in the event of unplanned expenses, a drop in salary or an underperforming portfolio. At what point would you cut your losses and adapt your strategy? How would you rebalance your portfolio to stay on track with your goals?
PLAN FOR OPPORTUNITIES
On the other hand, you should also plan for opportunities that could come your way. What if you get a lump-sum payment? A promotion? How will you deal with the excess funds you now have? If new investments come to market, which ones will you take up? Some opportunities may be worth taking while you might need to pass on others in order to stay on track with your goals.
Monitoring and support play important roles along the way. Monitoring publications and your portfolio too often may induce you to make too many costly moves, while checking too infrequently, may prevent you from responding quickly enough to adverse movements in the markets. So, settling on a monitoring strategy that works for you is important. Regular calls with your trusted VM Wealth Advisor for expert support go hand in hand to ensure the plan stays intact and gets tweaked as needed along the way.
Once your plan has been solidified, write it down, keep it in an easily accessible place and refer to it regularly and often. Keep the details top of mind throughout the year as you make decisions and continue to work towards your goals. The year ahead will be what you choose to make it. You’ve drafted the big picture, outlined the details and arranged for contingencies. This plan is your road map to success. The rest is up to you.