A Personal Trainer for your Finances

Setting Your Goals & Meeting Them

Webster defines the term Goal as “the end toward which effort is directed.” That definition packs a lot of possibilities into a few words. With that in mind, let’s deconstruct that definition, word by word, and apply those words to financial planning.

The End

Let’s begin with “the end.” I am a big fan of the adage “begin with the end in mind.” When thinking of a financial plan or goal, it is best to work in reverse chronological order. By discussing how a particular goal may look (i.e. what do you want to do and how much will it cost), we can then project how much money should be saved/invested, at what intervals will these funds be saved/invested, and at what rate of return (i.e. growth of your investments) should we expect based on your risk tolerance. Everyone is different. Financial priorities can take many shapes, such as paying for your children’s or grandchildren’s college tuition, funding your future retirement or creating a family legacy, to name a few. Regardless of the goal, a roadmap on how to get there is of great importance (see my next point).

“Just as a Personal Trainer can help you devise a workout routine that will enable you to build muscle or lose weight, a CFP can help you create a roadmap towards whatever goal(s) you desire.”

Moving Toward

Next, let’s look at the word “toward.” Toward is a term that indicates moving in a direction or a course of action. Dreaming of a particular goal or outcome will only get you so far. Eventually you will need construct a roadmap on how to get there from here. This is where a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) can help. Think of a CFP as a Personal Trainer for your financial future. Just as a Personal Trainer can help you devise a workout routine that will enable you to build muscle or lose weight, a CFP can help you create a roadmap towards whatever goal(s) you desire. A well-constructed financial plan also has an integral element of accountability. Having someone to push you towards a goal may be the difference between success and failure. My philosophy is “when something is important, call in a professional to help.”

Which Effort is Directed

The above referenced Personal Trainer analogy leads me to the third and final segment of the Goal definition, “which effort is directed.” Knowing what you want (the end) and how to get it (toward) will only get you so far. Eventually you will need to exert effort to achieve your goal. Again, a CFP can help you carry the load. As with any endeavor, a companion is a welcomed reprieve from “going it alone.” Having someone beside you who has knowledge and experience can be the difference between arriving at your destination in a timely fashion vs. arriving late or, even worse, not arriving at all. Keep in mind, most CFP’s offer a no cost initial consultation. Think of that meeting as an opportunity to test drive a potential financial planning relationship. It is very important to feel comfortable with the planner you choose. After all, that person could be your co-pilot for many years to come!

In conclusion, whatever your goal may be, having a trusted financial advisor by your side could be the most important investment decision you ever make. Keep in mind, there is no time like the present to begin planning for your future!

John W. Cooper, CFP® is a Private Client Advisor with Greenwood Capital working with individuals, families, and foundations. John helps his clients create a financial plan that will address their goals and objectives for both the short-term and for generations in the future.

The information contained within has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy. The opinions expressed are subject to change from time to time and do not constitute a recommendation to purchase or sell any security nor to engage in any particular investment strategy. Investment Advisory Services are offered through Greenwood Capital Associates, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor.

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