Setting and tracking achievable goals

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, June 5, 2014

Would you like to know what it would take for you to retire with a million dollars? If you have been putting money aside for retirement, you hope it will allow you to retire in comfort. But wouldn’t it be nice to have some idea how much that monthly check going into your retirement fund will grow to?

The biggest financial challenge facing working people today is finding a way of getting to the point where they can retire comfortably. While having a goal will not make it come true, without some kind of a financial plan you won’t know where you are really going.

And if you think that financial plans are for the rich or the elderly, the exact opposite is the truth. People who are financially successful started early and made smart decisions all their lives.

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The problem with most of the financial plans today is that they are too complicated. The plans offered by most investment firms can run to more than 100 pages. They typically ask you to spend hours filling out questionnaires. Many ask you to predict the future. These predictions include future rates of inflation, raises, debts, inheritances and much more.

Let’s face it; many of those assumptions are going to be wrong. And that means the projections are wrong.

But there’s another way of thinking about financial planning. I call it a “Financial Map.”

Let’s say you are one of those smart people with a goal of retiring at age 65 with a million dollars in assets. You are 35 and have a good job. You have put $50,000 away and are putting $500 per month into savings. Can you reach your goal? Are you saving enough? And how hard will your money have to work to help you get to where you want to go?

This kind of analysis does not require hours filling out questionnaires or Yellow Pages-sized books to figure out.

A simple financial plan can be thought of as a road map. You know where you start, you set a specific goal, you input your savings and your expected rate of return and see if that will allow you to reach your goal. If the answer is not what you want, the financial map should tell you what to change to reach your goal.

Every year, update your net worth, just like marking where you are on a road map. If your financial map tells you that you are on track, you’re good for another year. If you’re above or below the track that gets you to your goal, you can increase or decrease your savings rate or change your investment strategy. Or you can adjust your goal. And it’s all on a single sheet of paper.

Arie Korving is a financial advisor and the founding principal of Korving & Co. in Suffolk. Contact him at 638-5494.