Why do I Need a Financial Plan?
If you think about it, your life can be divided up into five key areas:
- The world (meaning your involvement in the community, city, province, etc.)
- Other, which includes things like recreation and friendships.
As long as you give each area its due, things will hum along just fine. But the minute you begin devoting too much attention to any single area, the others will suffer.
One area in particular that tends to be a stumbling block for many people is work. In an effort to produce more wealth to pass onto their estate and/or their heirs, many people put in long hours, take on extra jobs and spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about their financial investments. As a result, these people have little time and energy left over for their family, church and other commitments. This is where financial planning can help. By creating a sound, financial plan, you will be able to manage your finances in a manner that relieves financial pressure and frees up more of your time and energy to focus on other forms of “capital,” such as social and spiritual investments.
A popular saying goes like this:
“Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.”
In his own humorous way, what the writer is saying is that unless we set realistic, attainable goals for our lives – and our finances – we’re doomed to meander along on a pointless journey with no clearly defined purpose or direction. On the other hand, if we take time to set goals and create a realistic action plan to help us reach them, we can move forward with confidence, knowing we’re fulfilling the purpose for which God created us.
Setting financial goals may seem like an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes are a few simple steps:
- Confess your limitations
What’s holding you back from creating a financial plan? Lack of time? Fear of failure? A tendency to be overwhelmed with details? Lack of discipline? Write down any and all of these barriers that apply to you and ask God to show you how to overcome them through Him.
- Turn to God
Begin your financial planning sessions by spending time alone with God. Choose a time and place where you will be free from interruptions and distractions. Ask God what He wants to accomplish through you in regard to your finances and the other areas of your life. You may even want to read or meditate on some Scriptures that have to do with finances and goal setting. Some good places to start include: Proverbs 16:9; Isaiah 43:19; Ephesians 3:20; 5:15–17; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 119:105; and Matthew 6:19–20, 33.
- Record your goals
As God begins to lead, write down the ideas, impressions and desires that come to you. Be sure to phrase them as clearly defined, measurable goals. Some of these goals will be short term; others will take longer to reach. Remember: Goals are based on faith and following God’s leading, not on past accomplishments or current resources. Acknowledge that God may want to do a “new thing” in your life (Isaiah 43:19) and that He can “do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
- Create an action plan
Once you have your goals written down, create an action plan for each goal that states how you will achieve it. Include as many steps as you need. You may also want to list some potential barriers to how you will reach this goal and pray for wisdom on how to overcome them. It’s also a good idea to come up with a timeline and to think of someone who will hold you accountable to your plan.
It’s possible to come up with a financial plan on your own. However, you’re much better off creating a financial plan in consultation with your accountant or a certified financial planner. They’re experts in these matters and they will be able to be objective in areas where you find it difficult.
Whether you do it on your own or with help from a professional, once you create your goals and action plans, refer to them often, revising them and establishing new goals and action plans as your financial situation changes. Stick to this roadmap and you will find a sense of freedom and purpose regarding your finances that you never before thought possible.