Ladies, do you want to just get by financially or thrive financially?
Financial planning is the roadmap to building wealth by deploying your financial resources in the most effective way possible so you can get the most enjoyment out of your life.
The current environment with high inflation, and economic uncertainty has made it extremely challenging for the average person to create, manage and build their wealth.
For women, the uphill challenges are even steeper. The wage gap, the she-cession, the pink tax, the career breaks to take care of loved ones, the longer life span – all of these inevitably mean women have to stretch a lot fewer savings out longer compared to men.
This is why a financial plan is crucial.
A well-thought-out financial plan can serve as the strategic roadmap to help women make the most out of their hard-earned money and give them a real opportunity to equalize the wealth gender gap.
So, what does a well-thought-out financial plan look like?
Below we cover five essential steps to financial planning for women, that deserve your attention:
1. It’s Essential to Take a Holistic Approach to Your Money
A common mistake I see women make is that they attribute being financially successful to only one aspect of the financial picture.
For example, most women I speak to believe they’re financially healthy because they’ve mastered the household budget.
An analogy amongst many men is that they owe their financial success to their investing skills.
No one gets rich by only saving money.
And, absent of a plan, one will take an ad-hoc approach to investing – increasing their chance of losing money.
A financial plan is far more comprehensive and includes:
- debt management
- tax efficiency
- education funding
- life insurance
- retirement planning
- estate planning
- …and more
When all the parts are integrated and you have a basic understanding of their role in your financial health, you’ll be in a much better position to effectively use your financial resources.
For instance, if you need to save more money, you can cut expenses, but if that’s not an option, you can review your investment portfolio for opportunities to create an income stream, or find opportunities to reduce taxes, or review your insurance policies etc.
On the contrary, by focusing on only one or two aspects of a financial plan, you run a real risk of an unknown gap triggering a negative repercussion on the parts you thought were secure in the first place.
2. It’s Essential to Have a Financial Plan Regardless of Your Age and Wealth
Depending on what stage you are in life you might be saving for your first car, or post-secondary education, a home or your first child. You may have credit card debt or student loans, or perhaps a mortgage. You need a plan to tackle each and every one of these.
A financial plan is for anyone who has a life goal and needs to manage their money to prioritize and reach those goals – regardless of their income or net worth.
That’s why it’s never too early to follow these steps to financial planning for women, and create a financial plan.
Your plan may be simple, or you may need to create something more in-depth, especially as you gather more assets. But the earlier you start, the better habits you form and the greater chance of success you’ll have in reaching your financial goals.
3. It’s Essential That a Financial Plan Be Flexible
Most of us assume things will happen just the way we envision it to unfold.
Yet life is anything but certain.
People get ill, people lose their jobs, people get divorced, people pass away, or a pandemic strike can turn our lives upside down.
A good financial plan will be fluid so you can revise your plan according to the situation.
Here are some ways you can rework your financial plan, if and when the need arises:
- Push out or shorten the timeline for a goal
- Make the goal larger if you find extra resources, or simplify it, if you find you’re short resources
- Look for ways to find cash by cutting expenditures, making more money, or revamping your investment or tax strategy
- Tap into insurance and other protection policies to fill funding gaps
Once again, when you have an integrated financial plan with all the pieces mapped out in one place to see, it becomes easier to maneuver parts because you can see the impact a decision can have on other parts of your financial life.
4. It’s Essential That Your Financial Plan is Reviewed Regularly
Tied to the previous point, and because circumstances change, it’s important to review your financial plan to make sure it still makes sense.
A good rule of thumb is to review your plan at a minimum, every year or when you go through a major life change.
Major changes include:
- changing careers
- moving to a new jurisdiction
- a change in your marital status
- having a child,
- encountering a sudden drop or rise in financial resources
- …and more
5. It’s Essential That You Own Your Financial Plan
Remember, you don’t need to tackle all these steps to financial planning on your own.
There are many qualified financial planners who are there to advise you, and they have seen and worked on a thousand different cases and can draw on their experience to support your journey.
- No one will be as familiar with your goals and why you chose what you did more than you
- No one will understand your challenges, values, and behaviours around money better than you
- No one will know more about your spending habits and earning potential more than you
These are all important factors that go into financial planning in addition to raw numbers. It’s your money and your life. Ultimately, the “buck” starts and stops with you.
These five essential steps of financial planning for women will help you manage your money well. Moreover, they will help ensure your most important goals don’t get derailed.
In the absence of a well-thought-out plan, the more goals you have, the greater the likelihood of one or more of them falling to the wayside. And they’re typically the ones that require more discipline and are seen as “boring” — such as saving for retirement.
It’s human nature to focus on the path of least resistance and the outcomes that give us the most pleasure at the expense of more important but less satisfying goals.
A financial plan will help you balance short-term and long-term objectives, with the fun low-priority and not-so-fun high-priority ones.