By Samantha Compton
Throughout 2021, I wrote a series of articles on “The 5 Principles of Financial Planning”. These articles covered universal principles that, when applied, will help guide and bring insight to future financial decisions. The Five Principles are:
- Financial Peace comes from having a plan
- No investment decisions made outside the context of the plan
- The plan determines the products
- Don’t let your portfolio take a H.I.T. (healthcare, inflation, taxes)
- Protect the income, grow the rest
We covered a lot of ground, and whether you read one, two, or all of the articles, I hope the series brought some insight and wisdom that you can apply to your financial life.
So, what now?
What will your financial focus be for 2022?
I want to share an exercise I am doing this year. I have some very skilled friends at implementing this in their lives, and they have inspired me! You may want to try it too!
The exercise entails approaching a new year and finding a word that encompasses what you want to focus on in that year. The process of finding that word can be different for each person. What I find so valuable about doing this is narrowing down the focus for the following year, which helps prevent overwhelm.
Remember the days of “New Year’s Resolutions”? What is well known about them is that most people do not stick to them. All those “longed-for” changes can become too much to upkeep! Because of that, many people find no value in even considering them any more. I assume it ends up in the category of “why bother.”
However, those who think about who they want to be or narrow down what they want to accomplish and set one word or phrase as the focus narrow down their thoughts, focus, and efforts to that one word or idea.
I have heard from MANY that this focus has brought about more change, awareness, and growth than a whole list of “resolutions” has ever brought them. I imagine the old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none,” describes the reason why resolutions don’t lead to the desired results. Focusing on one or two specific areas in our lives allows for the time and energy to take the necessary steps for change in those areas. Trying to make too many changes in too many areas of our lives can lead to exhaustion and giving up.
If you’d like to see a change in your financial life, what if you chose one word, phrase, or idea to focus on in this area and then put all your efforts toward that? How much ground could you cover with that much intentionality?
Maybe you have credit card debt or a student loan that has slowed you down in reaching your financial goals. What if “Paying Off Debt” is your one area of focus for 2022? While focused on that goal and putting your energy and financial resources toward it, you would probably also accomplish:
- Not creating any additional debt
- Spending less
- Creating the ability to save more in the future
- Inspiring others who are watching you, like your children
Can you imagine the ripple effect of this?
Here are some other ideas for areas of focus:
- Saving an exact amount monthly or annually
- Giving away a specific amount monthly or annually
- Starting and funding a college account for your children
- Planning for and tracking your spending each month
- Developing a written plan for retirement
If you just chose one of these – just one – and focused all your efforts toward it, imagine how much you could accomplish in that area! Where could you be at the end of 2022? How would you feel about your finances and your ability to handle them well? What would it set you up to focus on and find success in for the following year?
January is the perfect time to think about what area of your financial life you would like to experience a change.
- Spend 15-30 minutes considering what one area of your financial life you will put your efforts and energy into for 2022.
- Summarize that decision into one word or phrase and write it down!
- Post that word or phrase somewhere you see every morning and every evening.
- Track and celebrate your progress along the way!
Samantha Compton is an SWSM contributor and financial advisor. She is also a Senior Financial Advisor & Women’s Investment Specialist with an SEC Registered Investment Advisor Firm in the Kansas City, MO area. She places a high value on financial education and believes it is essential for creating and sticking to a well-written financial plan!