Long-term planning series: Plan today for the life you want tomorrow

If you start thinking about your dreams today, imagine if you took action, what your future could be.

Pause. Take a breath. Close your eyes, and dream. Picture yourself in the future. Where do you live? Where do you work? Are you single, or married? Do you have children or grand-children? What are your interest and hobbies? Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in the world?  If you start thinking about your dreams today, imagine if you took action, what your future could be.

Life is uncertain. No one can be sure of what the future might hold. We can, however, look ahead to plan for the future we want to have. Planning is an essential part of long-term goal setting. Planning takes time, but the time you spend now will pay dividends to your future.

Studies have shown that the largest income earners are not the largest accumulators of wealth. The accumulation of wealth is dependent on your saving and spending habits – basically what you keep, not what you make.  I will share with you a few of the tips I have used consistently in my own life.

  1. Pay yourself first.  This is not a new concept.  Most experts recommend saving 10-15 per cent of your income.  Set your savings aside as soon as you get paid.  If you have trouble being disciplined, set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account.  You want to invest your money and grow your investments so that your money can work for you, along with you working for your money.
  2. Pay yourself last.  By following the advice above, you already paid yourself.  However, I would still recommend if you have any money left over after you have set aside your savings and paid all of your bills, to pay yourself again with the remaining money.  You might choose to increase your investments, donate to charity, or put this money aside for planning special purchases, such as a trip.
  3. Set up a monthly budget that you can stick to.  Identify all of your sources of income, and list out all of your expenses.  A budget is essential to understanding your current situation.
  4. Do not accumulate credit card debt.  If you have a credit card, use it to build “points”, not to accumulate debt.  Pay your credit card bill every month. The interest rate on credit cards is higher than almost any other type of debt.  Why would you want to pay 18-25 per cent of the money you have worked hard to earn, to a credit card company?  Instead, build points, and enjoy free savings.  As an example, I have used points to buy a digital camera, and a canoe.

I will expand on each of the above tips in my upcoming blog posts.  Start thinking about different ways to successfully plan for your future, and take action.  It is not how much money you make that is the most important, it is how much money you keep that matters.  

About the Author

Alison Stanley