You know how I am always giving you guidance on how to Take Back Your Life? Well, beyond having a healthy and fit body, there is more to do if you want to make that happen. Finances are one area I want to focus on this week. So let me introduce you to René Nourse, Founder of Urban Wealth Management. She is the ultimate professional who knows her stuff inside out. You may have seen her on CNBC, and if you have, you can appreciate how she guides you financially in language you can understand. Let me also not leave out that René is my client, too. So she truly believes in keeping her finances in shape as well as her body.
Chances are, if you’re serious about your health and fitness, you’re probably using some type of tool to keep you on track. You might be working with a personal trainer, like Wendy Ida, using a mobile app, or utilizing a wearable tracker, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch.
Whatever method you’re using, it’s all about accountability. Believe it or not, the same holds true for your personal finances. After all, a goal is a goal, right? And frankly, the route to success is pretty much the same. If you want to improve any aspect of your financial life, setting goals, creating a plan and tracking your progress is critical to being successful. Just as you would follow the same steps in creating your fitness plan, let’s review how these same steps can be applied towards your Financial Fitness Plan.
(1) Begin with the end in mind: What are your goals for your finances? What are you trying to achieve? Having a specific goal in mind will help you stay laser focused on the outcome. For example, if your goal is to buy real estate, be specific about what you want to buy. If it’s a single family home, be clear about the details. How many bedrooms, bathrooms does your house have? Does it have a yard, what part of town do you want to want to live in? Be as specific as you can and set a date for your goal to be achieved. This step, while seemingly elementary, is actually fundamental to how successful you’ll be in meeting your goal.
(2) Write it down: Putting your financial goals in writing, and looking at them periodically—say weekly or monthly—will keep them fresh and real. Also, when writing your goals, see yourself as having already achieved the goal vs. meeting the goal sometime in the future. Instead of: “I want to be debt-free,” say: “I am debt free and no longer have balances on my…” — fill in the blank: credit cards, student loans, auto loan, etc.
(3) Track It: Know what your starting point is, so that you can track your progress and celebrate your wins. It may seem a bit daunting at first, and it might not even seem that a lot is happening at the beginning. But, trust me, you will see progress in your finances because now you’re paying attention. On the other hand, if you discover that progress is waning, you’ll know exactly what to do to get back on track.
(4) Keep it simple: How you track your progress will greatly depend on what’s most easy and convenient. There are tons of apps out there, a lot of which are free or nearly free. Minimally, you’ll want the app to include an aggregation tool that will connect and pull in transactions from your financial institutions, allow you to create customizable budgets, and send alerts—if, for example, you exceed your monthly budget. Utilizing this type of tool is very powerful because what you see is your financial life in real time.
(5) Finally, Work with a Professional: Just as you would hire a personal trainer to design a customized fitness plan, provide guidance and accountability, the same can be said about meeting your financial goals. A Certified Financial Planner or CFP®, is akin to a Financial Coach. They can help provide clarity about your finances and your goals, create a customized plan and assist in tracking your progress. Many CFP® professionals charge flat fees, so you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying for their services. To locate a Certified Financial Planner in your area, visit either the national CFP Board website, www.cfp.net or the Financial Planning Association website: www.plannersearch.org.
René Nourse, CFP®, is Founder and Managing Director of Urban Wealth Management LLC. Visit www.urbanwm.com to learn more about your financial fitness!
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