How To Create A Strategic Plan For Your Finances

 

As an IT Manager, I’ve attended my fair share of meetings. I don’t enjoy them, by and large (who does?) but I can often look back and see that most of them were very beneficial. Especially when the meeting involves coordinating efforts between employees or departments.

Recently I spent two full days participating in a strategic planning retreat with the management team at my company. “Two days!?” you might ask. Actually, as intimidating as the thought of sitting through 12 hours of meetings can be, when we get done with our retreats we often feel like we didn’t have enough time. Strategic planning is time consuming!

But I don’t regret the time at all. As a manager in a company of more than 50 people, we’ve got a lot of employees and their families who depend on their paycheck to provide for their families, and they need to have confidence in the direction of our company. And what gives them that confidence? That’s right, a solid strategic plan. A road map that we plan to follow so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

A good strategic plan takes a vision that has been cast and turns it into achievable goals. Then, it turns those goals into specific actions that will help folks accomplish those goals, and make that vision a reality.

A Strategic Plan At Home

Create A Strategic PlanIf you have dreams and goals for yourself or your family, how do you plan on achieving those? What specific steps will you take? And how do you analyze whether you’re on track or not so that you can make necessary adjustments?

I highly recommend taking some time (not two whole days, but maybe two whole hours) and mapping out a strategic plan for yourself and your family. It’s not very difficult and will pay off big time, I can assure you, when it comes to coordinating the efforts and priorities of your household.

Interested in giving it a shot? Here are the steps:

  1. Sit down with your spouse or by yourself and write down your financial goals for 10, 20, and 30 years from now. Even if it’s a rough estimate, just get something onto paper.
  2. Pick a much shorter period of time to create a strategic plan for. Some folks like 5 year plans, I’m more of a 2-3 year planner myself.
  3. Using the SWOT analysis method (don’t worry, it’s simple!), write out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that you have currently. Here’s a template that will help you fill that information in. In the S & W categories you would list out internal realities (things that you directly influence), whereas in the O & T categories you would list external realities. If you’re curious how that would look, here are some examples:
    1. Strengths– these may include certain job skills, your current financial position, your ability to earn or save, your social network, etc.
    2. Weaknesses– in this category you might list things like your limited experience, your upside-down mortgage, or your low emergency fund.
    3. Opportunities– what opportunities do your strengths provide you? The ability to pick up an extra side-hustle, dictate your working hours, or create an air-tight budget might be items seen here.
    4. Threats– what could derail your plans? Heavy debt load, precarious job status, looming expenses, poor insurance, not having a will.
  4. Using your completed SWOT sheet, write out specific actions you plan to take over the next few years in order to maximize your opportunities while mitigating the threats to your goals. Make sure your actions are specific, actionable and have a precise deadline.
  5. Check on your progress regularly. At my company we review our strategic plan and our progress on a quarterly basis to see where we are. Are there new opportunities or threats we need to be aware of? Does our plan need to change for some good reason? The point here is that we are all agreed on whatever changes we do or don’t make so that everyone continues to build their procedures and manage their resources with the company’s strategic plan in mind. This also applies very well to a family situation.

A Few Notes From My Experiences

It’s always amazing what comes out of the strategic planning process. People think through things they normally don’t think about very much, and more importantly they verbalize and/or write out those things. I had an instructor one time who would say “what gets written gets done”, and I’ve found that to be very true in life. However, an even bigger benefit of the strategic planning process is realized when a couple or family creates one together. Having everyone pulling in the same direction (at the same pace) can really change the way a family handles their money.

And don’t let perfect be the enemy of good! A strategic plan is something you’ll want to revisit every few years, especially as your life changes. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you’ll get better at it as you go. Just get started!

Have you ever done anything similar to this? Have you seen the benefits, either for yourself or for the group that participated?

 

This post was featured in the following carnivals:

Yakezie Carnival hosted by The Happy Homeowner
Earn More Spend Less hosted by Student Loan Sherpa
Festival of Frugality hosted by Debt Roundup
Carnival of Financial Independence hosted by Stacking Benjamins
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie hosted by Save and Conquer
Carnival of Financial Planning hosted by Bryan Maltier

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