If you were to do certain things, consistently well, consistently over time, would this increase your odds of success? We believe that this phrase is universally true. But when it comes to financial planning and financial decision making, what are those things that we should do and what does it mean to do them well?
Building on the concepts discussed in the Master Your Retirement book, the monthly plan is a deeper dive into 12 specific areas (one per month) consistently applied each and every year. This is all about creating new habits and creating consistency.
Now is the time to update your Net Worth Statement, what does it look like today and how has it changed from last year? Looking ahead, what would you like it to look like this time next year? With this goal in mind, what needs to be done over the coming 12 months to make this happen?
How has your income, taxes or expenses changed over the past year? Has your employment or health changed? Has the economy improved or worsened, have interest rates gone up or down and to what extent might these changes impact your financial situation? With these thoughts in mind, what changes might you wish to consider to help to either take advantage of these things or protect you against some future potential hardship?
If your life were ideal over the coming months, what would you do and who would you do it with? We want to encourage you to be thoughtful in your planning so that you can look back on this period of time and say “that was great!” This month focuses on many ideas and strategies to plan out the next 6 months in a thoughtful and purposeful manner.
April is tax month. You may have already filed your return by this point, and may have already received your Notice of Assessment, or you may just be filing your taxes now. Regardless of where you are at today, it is very important to take a moment to review your tax return in detail. What are the trends of the past 5 years? Have your taxes gone up or down? Are there ways for you to reduce the tax you pay? Looking ahead, what changes could you make now that will improve your tax return for the current year? Since tax is life’s single greatest expense, spending a little time each spring reviewing your tax picture is a critical component of your long-term financial success.
In general, stock markets move in cycles and patterns. One such pattern is the relationship between the winter months and the summer months, where the market gains over the winter months can often far exceed the gains earned during the summer months. Regardless of this pattern, it is always best to review your portfolio at least twice a year. What is the risk level of the portfolio today and should anything be rebalanced at this time?
What risks are there today in your current financial situation? Have these risks increased or decreased over this past year? Are there certain things that you would like to do to address these risks? Reviewing the risks you face at least once a year will help to prepare you for and protect you against events that can cause a significant financial setback. Managing your risks well is one of the keys to long term financial success. It is not only important to take advantage of good financial opportunities, but it is also equally important to protect yourself well against those handful of things that can derail years of excellent decision making.
Are you living your life in alignment with your values? Is your spending in alignment with your values? While it is easy to get caught up in the day to day, it is also equally as easy to lose track of those things that you value most. While you are likely on some type of vacation, give this some thought: are you living your life, and making financial decisions, that are in alignment with those things you value most?
In March we talked about planning ahead for the March to August period of time. At this time we want you to look back on these months and ask yourself: how were these months for you, did everything work out as planned? As you consider from where you have come, now take some time to think about your Fall and Winter months: what do you want the next 6 months to look like? What activities would you do and who would you do them with?
Now that you are planning ahead for the Fall and Winter, now is also a good time to review your spending. In July you spent time thinking about your values and so now is a good time to review your spending so far this year by reviewing your budget. Are you on track with your personal spending or have you spent more than planned? Is money going into areas that are not in alignment with your values? Is your budget helping you achieve your Net Worth goals? Take one to two hours this month to review your year to date spending and plan ahead for the remaining months of the year.
Now that the summer months are over, our attention should turn back to the portfolio. What does the current market environment look like today and to what extent is your portfolio well positioned for this environment?
Each November it is prudent for most people to review their income for the current year and to do a preliminary tax assessment. You can do this with your own tax software, looking at your pay stub, bank account and any other related items. Do you expect to have to pay additional taxes this year? How does this calculation compare with last years tax return? How does this calculation compare with the projection you did in April? Are there certain things you need to do prior to the end of the year so as to best manage your tax picture for this current year? Remember, tax is life’s single greatest expense and the extent to which you can manage your taxes efficiently over time, the greater amount of income you will retain.
Looking back on the work you did over this past year, what did you learn the most? Are there certain areas that you would like to pay more attention to next year? Taking a moment in December to review this past year is important so that you can set some clear goals for the year to come.
Does this look like a lot of work to you or do you feel that this is something that can be done in one, two or three hours each month? You may decide that you will spend more time in one month vs. another and you may also choose to divide these tasks between you and your partner.
In each monthly edition we dive into a combination of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced topics as well as answering some Commonly Asked Questions. In short, the key to solving any complex problem is to break it down into smaller and more manageable pieces.
These are the 12 pieces that we have chosen as the key habits we want you to adopt. These are the habits that we have seen from the Masters. Are you ready to take just one to two hours of your time each month and begin a new set of monthly financial and lifestyle habits?
To enroll in the Road to Mastery Monthly Plan E-Letter, complete the following form and submit your payment. This is definitely a service that we charge for. Why do we do this? In short, the big question is “are you serious about your financial health and are you prepared to make a financial investment into yourself?” People are typically more committed to doing the work when they have financial skin in the game.
Another question you may ask is: “But why would you do this when there is similar information for free on the internet?” We all know that there is a lot of information on the internet, but the challenge becomes a) how do you organize this information, b) how do you apply this information and c) where do you begin?
The Road to Mastery Monthly Plan is meant to provide to you very specific tools, steps and strategies so that you can spend only the time you wish to spend each month on each topic.