Happily Ever After Retirement

by Joseph Palma

When I first got into the business of Financial Planning, a mentor said to me, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” In my view, the key to success for making that “happily ever after” retirement come true rests on one simple, yet overlooked area of planning, BUDGETING!
I know that nobody likes to talk about budgeting, so, let’s use a friendlier term. We’ll call it a “spending plan.” The development of an efficient spending plan that adjusts to changes in your life over time will have your future self, thanking you for a well-planned retirement.
Developing a spending plan puts you in control of your money instead of your money controlling you. The activity of physically writing down your income vs. expenses, and then calculating what you have left at the end of each paycheck or month, will provide you with a huge eye opener to seeing your spending pattern. The goal is to spend what you have not what you don’t have. By avoiding credit cards and their outrageous interest on the debt, you will dramatically increase your chances of achieving a well-funded retirement.
Best-selling author, Greg Reid says, “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by actions makes your dreams come true.” It is so important to write down your financial goals and look at them every day.  This simple action will implant them into your memory and be a constant reminder of what is important.
Save for the unexpected, or what we call your “emergency fund.” Your emergency fund should be 3-6 months of personal expenses.  It’s OK to start small, like $1,000. But, make it a point to build up to the full deal. You never know what life is going to throw at you!
Attack your debt by developing a debt reduction schedule. Elimination of debt, even at the smallest levels will give you immediate positive feedback that will build momentum. Then, use your new habits and inspiration to tackle the bigger debts. Soon, you’ll be addicted to the success of the debt reduction. Interest on debt is your enemy in saving money for a happily-ever-after retirement.
When you establish your spending plan, you’ll quickly see where your money goes: vacation, a new car, retirement, college for your children, and the list goes on. By saving some extra money every month, you’ll experience how the magic of compounding will increase your total savings and provide a positive incentive towards reaching your retirement goals.
I challenge you to develop a spending plan, give your money a name, spend it on paper before you spend it at the store. Speak to professionals about debt reduction and seek guidance on a comprehensive financial plan tailored to your goals. Build momentum while staying positive and you will achieve your Happily Ever After Retirement!

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