Having a sound financial plan is a lot like setting out on an adventure with a reliable map to follow.
My wife and I love being outdoors and are avid hikers. We enjoy exploring our home state of Arizona and beyond. Whenever we travel, we look for great hiking, kayaking, and other adventures.
When we get ready to hit the trails, we pack all the essentials – water, snacks, first aid, good socks, and the like. Another key essential is a reliable trail map. I have a mobile app we use to locate trails and download maps for reference and GPS tracking. This comes in quite handy, especially for those remote areas where cellular service is non-existent.
There are times I forget to download the map. Sometimes I’m so confident in my inner compass that I elect not to use the map.
It’s in those times the trail reaches an abrupt end or an unmarked section. Just for good measure, I’ll check the trail map only to discover we are not where we need to be. I then confirm this to my wife by audibly admitting “we’re on a trail but it’s not THE trail.”
And this is how a four-mile hike turns into a seven-mile hike.
I use this analogy to illustrate the process of financial planning. With a map, you can know where you’re headed, how to get there, and how to recognize when you’re off course. Sometimes life moves and sends us down an unexpected detour. Sometimes our choices are inconsistent with our defined financial purpose and long-term objectives.
When you find yourself off course from your financial objectives, here’s how to get pointed in the right direction:
Your financial plan is more than numbers and charts – it’s your locator beacon to show where you are along the path you intend to travel.
It may take time to reroute from your current detour and get back on the right trail. The best way down the path is often one step at a time, and you may have to watch where you step to avoid new problems.
Depending on how you ended up off-course, your financial objectives may need to change. Circumstances may change your wants and needs, and that may require redefining your short-term and long-term destinations. When life moves, your financial advice moves with you.
When your financial purpose and intended destination are clearly defined it’s easier to follow your map and stay on the right trail.
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