I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya . . . it feels phenomenal!” ~ Peter La Fleur
Unlike the advice of Peter La Fleur in “Dodgeball,” you need to have financial plans to guide your life.
Has your life taken a left turn? Unless you are a NASCAR driver, that left turn may not have been in your financial plans. That left turn may be a financial setback for your goals.
Your financial goals should involve a plan to achieve them and a disciplined approach in meeting that goal. However, sometimes life likes to give you a left turn. It can be in the form of something good, like a new child, marriage, or job. Unfortunately, it can also be in the form of something terrible, which it seems like there are far too many examples recently to need to dwell on this. point.
So you are thrown off track, what comes next? You have a few options!
First, you can give up. This isn’t you telling your parents you want to quit a sport in high school because it is hard. Giving up on a financial plan can be an excellent option if it is no longer viable or it would take a lot of work to salvage the plan. Sometimes it is best to just start over from scratch and reevaluate.
Second, you can double down on your existing strategy and continue your disciplined trek towards meeting your goals. This trek may involve some more steps than you originally intended for the goal to have.
Questions to ask yourself when your financial life goes off track:
- Have your priorities changed? For example, imagine you were saving for your dream car – a fully-restored 1970’s Mustang. Next you find that you are unemployed. Now your priorities should have changed – you now need to focus all of your attention on paying your bills.
- Are you robbing Peter to pay Paul? Make sure you aren’t sacrificing one financial goal in order to achieve another goal. In the above example, you shouldn’t be achieving your goal of purchasing your dream car at the expense of not fully paying off your bills.
- Is your goal still achievable? Here you need to decide which of the above options you want to pursue – abandon or modify your financial plans. Here, to modify, rather than buying a fully-restored 1970’s Mustang, maybe you decide to buy a car in your budget that you fix up yourself. Another example would be to buy a smaller home than you previously planned on or maybe more of a fixer-upper to keep the house within your new financial means.
- Can you delay your financial goal? Sometimes you need to expand your timeline to allow for additional savings or when your job is more secure. Rather than buy that Mustang now, why not wait a year or two for when you can buy the car without draining your financial safety net.
- What have you learned from this left turn? What doesn’t kill you makes you financially smarter. Think about the left turn you face and ponder on what you could’ve done to prevent this from happening. Could you have set aside more money to protect yourself in case of job loss? Could you adjust your priorities and save money by eating out less? Take the financial blows and learn from them.
Remember, a setback is not the end. “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” a saying the marines use when overcoming obstacles. Use what you learn from this setback to improvise, adapt, and overcome future difficulties and struggles.