5 ways to track your financial journey
The following is a guest post from youngandtheinvested.
As passionate readers of My Own Advisor we know it takes some effort to track your financial journey. But you don’t have to start it all at once.
For today’s post on Mark’s site, here are five ways to help you track that financial journey – tips and tricks that work for us along with some reminders from Mark’s content too!
1. Set Targets
It will be quite easy to lose track of your financial journey without a financial target.
Setting some clear, specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound goals (i.e., get SMART) is a great way to help you accomplish any goals.
Mark has been doing this on his site for years.
Like Mark, we believe having smaller, more motivated goals within any given year will help you achieve some bigger, longer-term goals like these!
You can consider posting these targets on your fridge, on your phone, or in your digital calendar.
Make your goals visible and be mindful of them. This way, they become part of your daily action plan.
2. Manage your Cashflow
We blog out of the U.S., but not unlike Canada, we know most Americans spend money they just don’t have. As a consequence, many Americans simply underestimate the importance of budgeting. Lack of any form of budgeting can lead to overspending, lack of savings, poor financial security, and a high likelihood of getting into debt. Lack of budgeting practices can also cause major financial stress.
At the core, budgeting enables you to manage your income and expenses.
Mark has a great saying we like, while budgeting is great, he believes cash flow is king.
Simply put, cash flow is the movement (i.e., flow) of money into and out of your possession.
Positive cash flow is very desirable. It means more money is flowing in than out. Negative cash flow is not desirable. That means more cash is leaving your hands than coming in.
Instead of detailed budgeting, Mark prefers forecasting and cash flow management. A great example of that is his better way to budget.
By setting aside a fixed amount of “pay yourself first expenses” up front, as much as possible, we believe this is also an effective way to budget. Then, any money leftover can be enjoyed guilt-free.
If you need a tool to help you with your cash flow management, check out Mark’s other site called Cashflows & Portfolios. You can subscribe for free and just as importantly, download a free cash flow management tool as well!
3. Maintain a Savings Plan
We know some mothers often teach their kids not to spend all their money at once. This lesson should also translate into adulthood.
Setting aside some money every week, whether that’s $25 or more, is just one way as part of your cash flow management to ensure if any emergency happens, you have some cash set aside.
Mark reminded me about these savings targets by the age.
Having some savings tucked away provides a whole range of opportunities for you. They range from achieving financial security and freedom to having a financial backup in case of a sudden job loss. Automating your savings is one great way to ensure savings build up over time.
We like Mark’s concepts about considering yourself as someone you owe money to – like a bill payment. Savings can be like bills paid every month to You Inc., on an automated schedule like many other bill payments to grow your savings for short-term goals or to meet longer-term investing needs.
You can follow along and watch your savings grow…without any other methods….although having a broad financial plan is definitely a major step up.
4. Create a Financial Plan
Most of the world’s wealthiest people did not get rich by merely saving – they invested.
But investing, while good, is not very helpful unless you have a financial plan to go with it.
A financial plan will help you manage your debt obligations, manage insurance needs, determine the best tax strategies to use for your situation, and really get to the heart of why you are saving money and what that money is intended for.
As you build your financial knowledge over time, as you get past the start of saving some money, ensure you read Mark’s very comprehensive post below:
We believe creating a detailed financial plan will eventually give you the financial roadmap you need to be successful.
5. Keep a Financial Journal
If a financial plan is too much right now, if you’re just starting out with your investing journey, that’s OK.
Whether it is via an app on your phone, starting a blog, or going old-school with paper-based journal, keeping a documented, routine update on the status of your financial affairs is an excellent way to track your financial journey.
Keeping a record of your financial transactions (including thoughts and feelings about money) enables you to reflect on your financial journey and make any changes that may be required. It also motivates you to continue taking the necessary steps in achieving your goals.
You can also consider naming a “financial accountability partner” to help you out. That could be a friend, a colleague or money coach to help you with your money management reminders over time.
Articulating and sharing your financial goals with a trusted partner or friend, like a partner at the gym, may help you with the motivation and reminders you need to meet any targets or financial milestones along the way.
Final Thoughts – 5 ways to track your financial journey
We recognize Mark’s readership is diverse and there are many savvy investors that subscribe here. But we also wanted to write this post for My Own Advisor to highlight to beginners that there are some simple steps you can take to better track your financial journey.
Whatever you do, do not feel you need to do all five ways to track your financial journey at once.
Pick one, start small, and grow from there. In doing so, your journey to financial freedom can become a reality.
Check out Mark’s Start Here page.
Get rich slowly – link to a FREE ebook here.