It’s hard to plot out every goal you want to accomplish in your long life — especially if you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s right now.
You have decades of life to live ahead of you, and these are the prime years in which to experience and enjoy some major life milestones and changes.
Trying to understand exactly what you want in 5 years is hard enough — so how are you supposed to understand what financial goals your 50- or 60-year-old self will be happy to have accomplished?
The truth is, planning is only guessing. You can’t know with absolute certainty what you’re going to want 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.
That doesn’t mean planning isn’t useful, or that you shouldn’t ever give a thought to what you might want to have in your life in the distant future.
Know that nothing is set in stone, but still plan. Educate yourself, take time to carefully consider ideas and strategies you might want to use to get yourself closer to a goal…
And know that change is inevitable along the way.
The Importance of Flexibility in a Financial Plan
This is especially true with your financial plan.
Financial planning is not a one-time event that produces a static document based solely on facts and numbers.
It’s a dynamic process that requires regular review and updates to make sure you’re staying on the right track to what you want.
Which brings us back to your goals. “Goals” is just shorthand for saying “what you want,” or “what’s important to you,” or “what you value most.”
Even if you don’t have set goals now — or feel like you’re unsure of what your goals might be into your future — it’s still worth considering what’s important to you so you can work that into your financial plan.
Why Setting Specific Financial Goals Can Be So Hard
Setting specific goals presents a challenge because you likely know you’ll want something at some point in the future that will require you to start working toward it now.
But you might not know what that something is.
Maybe it’s a vacation house on the beach. Perhaps it’s the ability to travel around the world. Maybe you’ll want to turn a hobby into a small side business that doesn’t necessarily need to pay all your bills — and doesn’t have to, because you saved enough to pursue this passion after you retire from your career.
This doesn’t have to only apply to things decades into the future. You could make great money now, feel happy with where you are in your life, and think there’s no need to set specific financial goals because you have everything you want.
Might as well enjoy that money you make and spend it for today, right?
Sure, you should enjoy yourself. But you can balance that with being responsible for tomorrow at the same time — even if you’re not positive what you want 5 years from now, or even next year.
You don’t need to have an extremely detailed plan with every step mapped out to have a reason to save for the future, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
You don’t need specific goals. But you will need money at some point, which is why the goal doesn’t matter so much as whether or not you’re saving for that thing you’re gonna want someday.
You Don’t Need Specific Financial Goals, But You Do Need a Wealth-Building Account
Most financial planners won’t tell you this, but…
You don’t always need to have specific financial goals in mind to work toward.
Yeah, SMART goals are great and having a specific idea of where you want to go is helpful for projections, because we need to know where you are and where you want to be in order to give you specific action steps to get from A to B.
But you don’t need goals to save or to plan. What you need is a Wealth-Building Account.
What’s a Wealth-Building Account, and How Does It Work?
A Wealth-Building Account is what I call an individual, taxable brokerage account with a specific purpose:
This account is for the times when you don’t have a detailed goal you’re striving to achieve, but you still want to save for a future you want to enjoy.
Say you’re in your mid-30s. You have a great job, you make good income, and you’re generally happy with your lifestyle. You contribute to your retirement accounts and maintain emergency savings.
You have money left over at the end of each month — but no specific financial goals to put that money toward right now.
At this point, most people just spend the money. After all, it doesn’t have a job, so why not? Why not live it up today since there’s nothing specific you’re interested in working toward in the future?
If you want to enjoy more financial success, don’t be like most people. Instead, contribute “extra” money from cash flow to a Wealth-Building Account.
You may not know if you want to save for a house or to take a year off and travel. Maybe you’re not sure if a traditional retirement is right for you, or if you’d prefer to achieve financial freedom instead… but once you do figure these things out, you’re going to be very happy to have the money available to do what you want because you saved it along the way.
The specifics of your goals don’t matter as much as recognizing that you will eventually want to have something in the future that you really value — and that may require a lot of money.
The Wealth-Building Account is where you save for that.
You could call that brokerage account anything you wanted. It could be your Freedom Fund. It could be your Ability to Choose What I Want account.
Call it whatever resonates with you and reminds you that even without a specific financial goal in mind, you can still save and invest for the day when you do know exactly what you want and you’ll need a good amount of money to achieve it.
It’s all about creating flexibility and choice. Keep that in mind for the times when you’re not striving hard for something specific — but still want to plan responsibly for tomorrow.
Putting a little money away each month into a brokerage account for “someday” will pay off in a big way when you eventually get the opportunity to obtain something important to you.