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Leesville Daily Leader - Leesville, LA
  • Making Cents: Financial plans begin with setting goals

  • As the famous philosopher and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." Unfortunately, this is how most people run their family finances, particularly if they don't focus on goal-setting.

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  • As the famous philosopher and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." Unfortunately, this is how most people run their family finances, particularly if they don't focus on goal-setting.
    A starting point for goal-setting is to think about how you'd like to spend your time - the details of each day, week, month and year. Don't assume that you must go punch the clock each day. Now, developing the vision doesn't mean that you'll be there starting next Monday, but it should pique your curiosity enough to wonder what may have to happen for this to become reality. That's where financial counsel and forecasting may shed light.
    Think of your ideal use of time in terms of the categories, activities or values that are most important to you. Now rate your satisfaction with how you are currently enjoying your time spent in each of these areas, and ask yourself how to improve your satisfaction. You'll dig out those fun things that you used to do, but have been lost in your busy life. Make this the year that these meaningful and invigorating activities make it to your calendar.
    The next part of goal-setting involves planning for the consequences or costs of living out your meaningful purpose. And the first consequence is discovering and trying to eliminate obstacles that prevent you from living the dream today. Some may be obvious, such as you simply can't afford to move to Maui and surf every day. But you can calculate what it may take to afford that lifestyle, and design a plan to know when you'll be able to live it. Perhaps there is a middle ground that finds you in a wetsuit in the Northeast or taking annual trips to Maui.
    Also, ask yourself what should happen if something goes wrong - such as a job loss, severe illness or premature death. What would you like to happen to your lifestyle and loved ones? It's not the most fun part of goal setting, but it will be meaningful in the event that something does hit the fan.
    The one thing that you can guarantee is that things will change. What is important to you now may not matter in a few years. This part of planning is just as important and should be the centerpiece of all planning discussions.
    John P. Napolitano is the CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass. He may be reached at jnap@uswealthcompanies.com. For online discussion and more information, go to www.makingcentsblog.com.
     

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