It is true that is always easier to skip planning, since it requires time, effort and checking how we managed versus what we initially planned. For example, if you go on picnic for barbecue it is the most easily just to get into a car and stop by to buy a few things. But when you get to your place, you can realize that you bought meat, but you forget spices, or that you bought coal but forget the grill. So, you must admit that some planning prior to your trip should be good.
Planning is important in every aspect of your life. Especially it is important because of your financial health. Without planning you will not have real control over your incomes and outcomes. Money will be just coming in and going away from you. Whether you will have money leftover or be in debt at the end of the month is only matter of coincidence.
You need to plan your personal finance in specific periods and to revise periods after they are gone. Example, you set up income and outcome plan for a month and after the month has ended you can check how was your spending and saving vs. plan. You will be amazed how much money you loose on trivial things, that you bought simply because you were probably bored at some moment and went for shopping, or you didn't re-think before buying something.
As an example of personal planning it is good to take a look on finance planning of the companies. Business planning is very structured and rigid, but is highly effective. You do not need to be so strict, e.g. to sign allowance to your self and to take receipt just to go to watch some movie. But still you can learn a lot from Business planning model of financial management and apply it in your personal finances.
Business financial planning is divided in several dimensions. Time dimension covers a full year, divided in quarters and months. During the business planning mid term period of, for example, 3-5 years is considered for setting the strategic guidance. Second dimension is the balance sheet that have incomes on one side and expenses on other side of the sheet. At the bottom of the sheet some profit should be generated. The income side of the balance sheet should contain income channels, e.g. sales, interest rates, rent, royalties, ... The expense side should have budget lines with allowance for different purposes, e.g. utility costs, salaries, investments, raw material...
This should give you a glimpse into the structural approach of financial management that you can use for your personal financial planning.
First, define your time periods and goals for every period. You do not need to specify goals too accurately, but at least set them roughly.
- Short term – Monthly Financial Planning should be the basic period, simply because usually you receive salary in monthly periods, as well usual monthly bills. Try to make monthly plan by setting the goal in term of spending. Probably you cannot make too big changes on income side in a single month.
- Long Term – Annual Financial Planning should cover summary of the monthly plans. But at same time you should expand your perspective toward investment of saving, as well as setting goals to construct auxiliary income source.
- Strategic Planning – Is the long term e.g. 5 – 20 years financial planning where you should include planning of capital expenditures like a car, house, scholarship, retirement plan, ...
Now, since you got basic of temporal planning, try to involve some tools in your planning. You do not need some sophisticated accounting software. You can use simple tools like excel sheet.
Try to record your financial traffic in your personal accounting tool as much as possible. These records will help you to identify budget leaks, meaning expenditures that are not that necessary. At same time you will have a chance to plug these leaking holes in your budget.
In time, you will perceive you own financial flows from higher perspective. This strategic perspective will develop your sense for financial management. It might be unpleasant at first, since it is easier to close one eye and to spend without to much thinking. Still, personal financial management requires some discipline.
Try to identify your financial areas of improvements. For beginning use easily achievable targets e.g. save 100 € extra every month. You need these small victories at the beginning, as a way of encouraging yourself. This will boost your morale for greater goals in your personal finance management.
Remember, even a biggest ocean, at first place, needed a first drop of water, and some time for many other drops in order to become what is now. The same is with your finance. Take your time and take every drop for your personal financial development.
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