How is it that the couple in this photo is so happy? I’m sure they are taking time to talk about their money. Could it be that they are also making money plans and hitting those plans with 100% consistency? Must be. If only we could all live in the perfect world of stock photography!
You and I know that the real world is not so perfect. Many people are not planning out their lives much, let alone following through with what they talk about. And let’s be honest, sometimes WE are the ones that are all talk and no action. Or, maybe all talk and rare action… or some action… or action most of the time. The truth is, many of us plan to do well, but our follow through is not always 100% like the happy couple in this photo. Does that mean our probable lack of perfection should lead to no planning at all?
I’ll answer that in a moment, but first, if you’ve read my last post on how to become a happy money couple, you know that having regular money talks is the first step towards becoming a happy money couple. In this post, I’m going to show you how to take all of that talk and move closer to seeing tangible money results through creating a money plan, because too many of us are less than perfect with our follow through, even when we do plan. Don’t believe me? It’s okay. We’ll go back to the TD Bank survey of about 2,000 people to get a sense of our own money habits. Take a look:
This graphic conveys two messages:
Many people do not plan their spending. For example, only 62% of those surveyed planned their spending for Groceries/alcohol. Only 58% planned how to save and cover unexpected expenses.
Even when people plan their spending, some people don’t stick with their spending plans all or most of the time. Many do, but a sizable portion don’t. Roughly 20% on average never, rarely, or only sometimes stick with their plans.
So is my point that we need to try harder to stick to our spending plans? No! My point is that if those who are making spending plans are having trouble always sticking with their plans, what chance do you have if you do not create a plan at all? At least give yourself a chance to put talk into action by creating some sort of money plan. I’ll show you how, but first, let’s again address an elephant in the post.
Sorry, it keeps showing up. Here’s the real elephant: Why do we fail to plan when it comes to money? There could be a number of what I’ll call “money plan hurdles” preventing you from creating a money plan:
Could it be that you’re too busy to create a plan for your money?
Could it be that you feel inadequate at planning what you will do with your money, both in the short-term or long-term?
Could it be that you’re satisfied (read: complacent) with how you’re handling money, and therefore do not think that you need to plan out your spending or long-term money future?
Could you just be too lazy to make a plan and then aim to carry it out?
Could be… and could be.. and could be… It’s up to you to figure out which of these or any other money plan hurdles apply, but keep this mind in order to jump your money plan hurdles:
Without a plan in place, you do not have a fighting chance at fulfilling anything that you have discussed in your money talks.
You may not hit all of your money goals or even maintain your plans with 100% consistency, but lack of perfection is not an excuse for lack of planning. The point is not perfection, it’s progress. Creating a money plan helps ensure that your money talks lead to actual progress.
How We’ve Used Money Plans
The good news is that creating a money plan can be simple. A money plan essentially means two things:
Knowing where you want to end up financially in a certain period of time. In essence, having goals for your money.
Deciding exactly how you will get there. For example, living frugally, working overtime, creating extra income, investing, and so on.
If you do these two things, you will set yourself up for great money success and happiness. Here’s how Mrs. Money Pebbles I have used money plans over the last 3+ years:
In 2014, we made a money plan to pay off $10,000 worth of debt within 3 months by living as frugally as possible and applying all surplus income to debt. We reached our goal within 6 months.
In 2015, we made a money plan to be debt free as quickly as possible by continuing to live frugally. We reached debt freedom before the end of the year.
In 2016, we made a money plan to finish building a fully funded emergency fund, set aside additional savings, and start investing. We reached all three of these goals.
In 2017, we’ve made a money plan to fully max out my 401(k) and save an additional 13% of our monthly income in an automated fashion. So far, we’re on track with both of these goals.
Essentials for Creating a Money Plan
There is no one right type of money plan. Each couple’s financial situation, hopes, dreams, and priorities are different. However, there are a few essential elements that you must consider in order to make a money plan that is right for you:
• Discuss your hopes, dreams, and priorities with each other. This will allow you all to see where both of you desire to be financially.
• Agree on shared hopes, dreams, and priorities. Some of your hopes, dreams, and priorities may conflict. Make compromises and get on the same page with what you all want together as a couple.
• Discuss where you are now and what it will take to get to where you all want to be. Will it take a lot of sacrifice? How much are you all willing to sacrifice if so?
• Once you’re on the same page with what it will take to reach your shared goals and how much you all are willing to sacrifice to get there, put some dates and timelines around reaching those goals in order to have clear deadlines for arriving at your destinations.
Driving the Point Home
Let’s look at this metaphorically to drive the value of money plans home while also seeing the value of having a money system and regular money talks:
A money plan is essentially the GPS guiding you to your financial destination. You need to know where you are and where you want to go in order to make good use of any GPS. Accordingly, you need to know where you are financially and where you want to go in order to make good use of your money plan.
Your money system is the vehicle that enables you to get to your financial destination. It’s the structure that allows you to get to where you want to go more quickly than you would be able to without having a car. In other words, having a money system is the efficient way to reach your money goals. Stay tuned for a post detailing how to create a money system.
Your regular money talks as a couple are the gas in your vehicle. Without regularly getting on the same page about your money plans and progress, you will lose the “oomph!” needed to keep your money system going.
A couple with no money plan is a couple with no financial direction. And no financial direction as a couple is a breeding ground for disagreements, misunderstandings, and frustrations with how you all handle money. Avoid this by creating a money plan that you both agree on. You will be happier for it!