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What Is a Financial Plan?
An estimate 50% of families in the United States live paycheck-to-paycheck which makes them unprepared for financial emergencies (source: marketwatch). If you want to take control of your finances, developing a financial plan is one of the best decisions that you will ever make. A financial plan is a detailed and complete document which includes the statement of an individual or an organization’s long-term financial goals and objectives. It also presents a comprehensive strategic plan that an entity can execute for all listed goals and objectives to be realized.
Things to Consider When Crafting a Business and/or Personal Financial Plan
Your financial plan can be an efficient tool whenever you need to examine your financial goals. Through the specific document, you can effectively prioritize the things that you need to use your money for as well as the ways on how you can save up for future investments. Knowing how to create a financial plan accordingly can help you in many more ways than one. This is the main reason why it is important for you to have the necessary knowledge areas that can lead you to the proper development of an excellent financial planning tool. Are you now ready to create a financial plan? Here are five of the most important things that you have to consider when crafting a financial plan for a business or for yourself:
1. The Current State of Your Finances
Are you in-debt? Are you aspiring to make the most out of the financial resources that you have? Know your current financial state as this can help you begin your financial planning processes in the right foot.
2. The Amount of Money You Need for Your Operations and/or Activities
As a business, you need to consider your operational needs and requirements when making a financial plan. The same goes if you are an individual as you also must identify the activities that will require you to spend. List all of your expenditures and know how you can budget your money to cover all of your needs.
3. The Source/s of Your Funds
Where is your fund coming from? Is it stable? Are there a number of resources that you can rely on? You have to know the answers to these questions so you can make it easier on your part to make the financial plan long-term. When dealing with your finances, you should not just look into your current situation. You should also look into the future. In this way, you can plan and plot your financial activities accordingly. Identifying the sources of your funds can give you the ability to prioritize the ways on how you can manage the amount of money coming from each of these within given time periods.
4. The Strategies That You Will Use for Fund Management
Your financial planning strategies should be timely, measurable, specific, and realistic. Create strategies that are suitable with your needs and existing financial condition. Try to look into different kinds of financial plan samples so you can become more particular with the strategy options that you potentially can rely on.
5. The Level of Financial Management That You Aspire to Have
You have to create a vision of yourself and your finances in the future. Make sure that you will specify the level of financial management that you would like to achieve for yourself or for your organization as you try to make a financial plan.
7 Steps for Developing an Impressive Financial Plan
Simply put, a financial plan can help you decide on how much you should spend based on your needs and depending on the funds that are available for disposal. With this, you should not think of a financial plan as a tool that you only need when you think of cutting your budget. In reality, a financial plan is necessary so you can create financial decisions in advance based on the goals that you want to achieve. If you are planning to create a financial plan but is not knowledgeable on how to make one, you can follow this step-by-step guide that we have prepared for you. Below is a seven-step process that can help you develop an impressive financial plan.
Step 1: Download a Pre-Formatted Financial Plan Template
Use a financial plan template that can enable you to structure the actual layout of the document that you will use as your financial planning guide. There are different kinds of financial plans used in different environments and activities which is why you have to closely observe the details of the pre-formatted template that you will select.
Step 2: Set Your Financial Goals
What do you want to achieve as you use your financial plan? You need to be specific with your goals so you can set the steps that can help you realize them. Knowing what your financial plan is for and how you can utilize it in the best manner can help you complete all the elements that are necessary for your strategies to be as comprehensive and as attainable as possible.
Step 3: Gather All the Data About Your Finances
The collection of your financial data can be challenging and intimidating especially if you do not want to face the facts about your spending habits and poor financial management decisions. However, this is one of the steps that can enable you to identify the help that you need. Write your net worth, your sources of finances, your assets, and your investments. You also need to write down your debts, if there are any. Through this, you can have a clear view of the issues that you need to resolve and the decision-making processes that you need to immerse yourself in.
Step 4: Have a Financial Assessment or Evaluation
Put all of the items that you have listed together. Evaluate if you are spending within your means or beyond it. Be particular with where your money is going as well as the time frames in which trends on overspending is most likely to happen. You need to know your current financial condition so you can understand how you can bridge the gap between it and your desired financial state.
Step 5: Develop Plans of Action
Your financial plan should be broken down into minute details. This includes the keen identification of your plans of action. List down your financial objectives starting from those that you can immediately achieve from those that will require medium-term and long-term planning. The duration of your financial management activities plays a vital role when it is already time for you to decide on which item is necessary to be prioritized at the moment. Doing this can also help you to become more resilient in the processes of financial planning as you are dealing with different factors in consideration to given circumstances and instances within the period of financial management. Do not forget to prepare for financial emergencies and other unexpected spending.
Step 6: Measure the Effectiveness of Your Financial Planning Strategies
Use metrics that can help you objectively assess the effectiveness of the financial plan that you have developed as well as the strategies and tactics included in it. Be honest with your assessment or analysis as this can help you to further improve your financial plan for future use. Identify if you have already become better with managing your finances by comparing your current financial condition as to when you started implementing the financial plan.
Step 7: Open Your Financial Plan For Potential Updating
Always leave your financial plan for modifications. It is important for you to update the content of your financial plan so you can be guided when making sound financial decisions as long as you would like to. Implement necessary changes in the financial plan especially those which you think can highly-impact the improvement of your financial state and financial management skills.
Advantages of Making an Outstanding Financial Plan
65% of women and 52% of men are mostly stressed due to financial matters (source: moneyhabitudes). If you want to veer away from this kind of stress, we highly-recommend you to create a financial plan. Think of a financial plan as a tool or an instrument that can help you manage your financial resources as well as guide you whenever you need to budget for particular purchases. if you want to make a financial plan at this moment, make sure to be aware of the advantages that you can get if you will have an effective output. Knowing how you can be affected with the availability of the financial plan and its actual implementation can make it more motivating on your part to continue its usage. Here are some of the advantages of making an outstanding financial plan:
Dos and Don’ts for Creating a Detailed Financial Plan
Step out of the mindset that financial planning is only for those people who are rich. As long as you have finances that need to be managed, big or small, developing a financial plan is an important activity that you should give your focus on. Financial planning can provide you with a lot of benefits which is why you should consider making one. If you have already decided to create a financial plan, there are some subject matters that you have to know and be aware of. Here are the things that you should and should not do when creating a detailed financial plan:
1. Do Determine Your Objectives and Goals
You have to be specific with the financial goals that you would like to achieve. Begin by looking into your current financial condition. Doing this can help you list down all of the items that you would like to change and improve. Knowing the things that you want to achieve with the help of a financial plan can enable you to optimize the usage of the specific document.
2. Do Ensure That Your Financial Plan Is Time-Bound
When making a financial plan, you have to make sure that you will set a number of time frames where you can assess on whether there are changes with how you are handling your finances. You also need to create deadlines for specific goals so you’ll know if your current financial plan is effective or not. Use a timeline so you can visualize all of the time-related concerns that your financial plan should be able to address or give focus on.
3. Do Make a Realistic Budget Strategy
Your financial plan should include a budgeting strategy that can enable you to cover all bases. You have to create a realistic budget strategy that is based on your assets, needs, and expenditure. Ensuring that your budget strategy and overall financial plan are both attainable and measurable can make it easier for you to stick with your financial plans of action. If you will create a budget strategy for your organization, have a set of budget proposals so that the management can have more options when selecting what they think is the best financial tactic to execute.
1. Don’t Create a Financial Plan Without Assessing Your Existing and Desired Financial State
It is essential for you to execute a financial assessment so you can clearly know where you are as of the moment when it comes to your finances. Being particular with your financial situation can help you to give more importance with the call-to-actions that you need to do to gain financial freedom, to better your financial condition, and/or to achieve your financial goals.
2. Don’t Make the Process of Financial Planning Overwhelming
We suggest you to take it one step at a time. Financial planning can truly be intimidating especially if you are just starting out. Don’t feel overwhelmed with all the things that you have to accomplish. Rather, look into the minute details of the financial plan and manage them one by one. Create a financial plan that is based on your actual needs so you will not feel to pressured to follow something that is not even aligned with your goals to begin with.
3. Don’t Use a Vague Financial Plan
Your financial plan will require you to have specific and concise strategies. Never resort to the usage of a vague financial plan as this can cause you more harm than benefits. If you are not sure on how you will manage your money or how you will execute the right financial strategy, then your financial plan is of no use. The financial plan that you will develop should set the direction for the proper management of your finances. Hence, it is not beneficial on your part if you will create and execute a financial plan that has no concrete goals, straightforward objectives, and clear plans of action.
A financial plan can truly change your spending and saving habits. Do you find it challenging to create a financial plan on your own? Maximize the usage of the references that we have listed above. Download and use any of the templates and samples available in this post so you can create an amazing financial plan either for yourself or for your organization.