The aim of a successful investor isn’t just to make money; ultimately, money is a means to an end. Understanding what you want to achieve with your investments is vital to choosing the right approach and meeting your financial goals.
What this means is that you need to think ahead and understand some of what the future might hold, and use this to guide your investment decisions.
Step 1 – Brainstorm the major financial goals and life events that you can foresee over the next few years
Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve. Do you want to buy a house, save for retirement, go on a dream vacation or start building your child’s college fund? Write down all of the major life goals that you can think of.
Don’t worry about capturing everything, life is unpredictable.
Step 2 – Go through each goal and place it into a relevant category
Examine each of your goals, one by one, and put it in one or more of the following four categories.
- Immediate goals (up to a year) – Having enough money to live on day-to-day. This means paying the bills, buying groceries, making your rent or mortgage payments, repaying debt and the expenses of everyday living.
- Short-term goals (one to three years) – Saving or investing for your shorter-term financial goals. This might be going on a luxury vacation or buying a car.
- Medium-term goals (three to ten years) – The life events that could happen over the next few years. You might be investing for a deposit on a house, to get married, start a business, have children or other major changes.
- Long-term goals (ten years plus) – These are your longest-term financial goals. For many people, this is about security in retirement, saving for a college fund or other planned expenses that are several (or many) years away.
Naturally, your goals and timescales are going to be very different, depending on how old you are.
Step 3 – Roughly estimate how much money you’re going to need for each goal
Go through each of your goals and think about how much money you’d like to save for each one. You don’t need to be exact; what you’re trying to understand is where you need to put your money and how much of a return you’re looking for.
Step 4 – Use these figures to guide your investing decisions
As you decide where you’re going to invest, review your goals and amounts. You can then use this to balance your investment decisions. This will help you to invest more wisely.
Investing to your life goals is vital to achieving what you want with the minimum amount of stress. Create a clear vision of your future and the amount of wealth you’ll need to accomplish your goals.