It may be one of the most popular quotes heard world over, “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail”. This very popular statement spells out the necessity of having a plan in every endeavour you take. This is no less so on the journey to a great financial future.

Setting a goal is very important as it is a measure of progress and success. However, goal setting on its own is not sufficient. It must be backed with a detailed plan of action for it to succeed. Being deliberate about the establishment of a plan is the surest guarantee that your goal is not just a wish list but has your personal commitment.

The farther away your goal is, the greater the planning needs to be. Long term goals require longer plans. Think about it, you probably won’t need a map to get to and from work. However, when you set out to travel from Lagos to Maiduguri, no one needs to advise you on the need to be armed with a map and/or very good description of where you are heading.

This is the way it is in life, if as a young family you intend to have your children attend school in the top universities in the world, you do not wait for them to graduate high school to start planning for this. How about planning towards your retirement?

Is it not typical to see a civil servant rush to complete his home when he has just 2-3 years to retirement? Or to see parents looking for a buyer for a plot of land or the family car to pay off Junior’s 1st year tuition because he has secured admission to go study in Britain, after which he is left to work and study and pay his way through school. I am personally aware of the story of a family who pulled their daughter out of school in her 3rd year in the university (in Ghana) because her younger brother had secured admission to study in Canada and the family couldn’t afford to pay both fees. This action caused severe sibling rivalry and bitterness which cost the family no small pain.

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How many times have you personally deferred the commencement of that MBA you have long desired to take up because it costs too much and you couldn’t afford it immediately? And has this not cost you a promotion or an opportunity you could have taken if you only had that extra qualification?

Creating a personal financial plan has six basic steps:
1. Determine your current financial situation
2. Develop your financial goals
3. Identify alternative courses of action
4. Evaluate alternatives
5. Create and implement your financial action plan
6. Review and revise the financial plan
We will be looking more closely at these steps in our next article.

It is important to note that with planning, the earlier you begin, the better you get at it. In fact, the earlier you begin planning for your financial future, the earlier you will reach your goal.
Whatever your goals are, the time to start planning is now not a day later. Like Napoleon Hill said, Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.

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