Friday, December 30, 2011

Mapping Your Financial Future

As the new year quickly approaches I thought I would write about a topic that is usually at the forefront of most people's thoughts most of the time.  A topic people tend to avoid, that everyone has to deal with and facing it or running away from it will drastically affect your life.  Yes I am talking about money. 

Facing your finances does not have to be scary no matter what your financial situation.  In fact it can be exciting!  I do not tend to write about finances.  I am not a financial guru, overnight millionaire, or a financial adviser.  Therefore, I do not want to give advice on what you should do with your money.  I would like to share with you about the importance of mapping out your money.  It took years of learning by trial and error how to stretch our dollars.  We have lived on one income since the birth of our first child.  That was the beginning of the major stretching of the dollar.  I had to learn quickly how to budget for both our needs and our wants.

I am by nature an extremely organized person.  I am a list maker, a planner and am only comfortable knowing where I am going and how I am going to get there.  The details I could be whimsical about because the main path is always determined.... or is it?  Financially I have learned that the path we have mapped out can be affected by details, really little details.  The financial goals we have set for our family are vitally important to us.  These goals are the future, and like everyone else we want to have an optimistic picture of the future and we want to reach our destination.  As we get closer to reaching our destination like any trip, we become more excited about getting there and the anticipation grows. 

I started looking at money a few years ago like I do everything else.  It needed to have a clearer picture... I needed a money map!  Being the organized person I am my first map was on a spreadsheet and so detailed I started confusing myself!  I still wanted a map but something much less complicated.  I needed an A to B map and deleted what I had and went for something simplistic, still on a spreadsheet but simple. I believe the key to my mapping system is that I have our entire financial flow sheet on one page, one map.  I can click on it and see at a glance where we are headed, and where we have been.  Where we have been is  important.  It is these milestones that are encouraging and inspiring as you work toward accomplishing your financial destinations.

The biggest key to the map is this, set realistic goals and milestones.  A plan set in motion will work with time and diligence as long as we are careful about spending.  It's hard to get where you are going if you take a wrong turn.  The map might say where we are going and we might want to get there but if we make a wrong turn or overspend in this case it doesn't matter what the map says we are not going to get there.  Over spending doesn't have to be a big purchase, it can be astonishing how quickly small purchases add up!  As the new year approaches and goals and resolutions are being made I encourage you if you have not already, to map out your financial future to make it easier to see where you are going and work toward achieving those financial goals that you have for the new year.  Best wishes on your journey :)

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