Planning in general is an activity we engage in all the time - planning for a holiday, planning for a wedding, or planning for any other event or planning to achieve a particular objective. However, how many of us really get involved in developing a truly comprehensive personal financial plan and implement the same? If not, why not?
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc (CFPBSI) defines financial planning as "the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances". Life goals are goals dear to us that we would like see come to pass, especially during our lifetime. Such goals can be as simple as saving to buy a car or for a cruise around the world, or a bit more challenging in investing to mitigate the effects of inflation in planning for retirement.
In goal setting, it is imperative that we be rational and do not set goals that will be too difficult to achieve in the timeframe required else we can be truly discouraged and discard the plan altogether. Thus, it is good to follow the SMART principle, taught in Management 101, which states that our goals should be Specific (say, save to buy our particular dream car), Measurable (say, save $50,000 to buy a car), Achievable (say, plan to buy a car costing a sum we can afford), Realistic (as in planning to buy a car and not a trip to the moon although it can come true for some), and Timely (say, achievable within a reasonable time period).
Knowing our SMART financial goals will enable us to plan how to achieve them. If we are not sure how to develop a financial plan that is workable for us, we can seek the services of a financial planner. A point to note is to ensure that we consult a financial planner that is adequately qualified (say, having the CFPBSI's Certified Financial Planner certification that is recognized worldwide) and experienced (and perhaps licenced to practice as a financial planner by the appropriate authorities to ensure accountability and ethical behavior).