You can spend your entire life working and earning money only to go absolutely nowhere. Working and making money without a plan is useless. If you want to go anywhere in life, you need a plan, and one can say the same of your money.
You can talk with a financial planner and develop a financial plan, but I prefer to help them create their millionaire plan when I mentor people about money. What's the difference?
Typically, a financial planner or financial advisor, trained to think about money in one specific way, creates a financial plan for you to follow. Quite often, their net worth has not reached $1,000,000. Why does that matter?
Think about it. If you're talking with the average financial advisor or planner, you're getting financial advice from someone who's net worth is probably less than $500,000. They may know a little more about money than you, but do they have the right money mindset? Do they have a millionaire mindset? Do you have a millionaire mindset?
Recommended Reading: T. Harv Ecker penned Secrets of the Millionaire Mind; it's a great book to help develop your mind in the area of money and expand your vision for what you are truly capable of doing with your life.
In short, a financial plan lacks the clear goal you need to motivate you to make the hard choices with your money. A millionaire plan is different. It forces you to commit to tough choices. "If I make these hard choices with my life and money, I will be a millionaire by this date ____________." A millionaire plan has a clear goal with a precise date for accomplishing your goal. $1,000,000 net worth by _______ (year) by ________(age).
A millionaire plan gives you a vision for how money fits into your life and helps you to shape your choices and what you do with your money. Most Americans stumble through life without a clear vision. It's one of the reasons why over 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. They can't envision a different life, future, or how to get there.
At age 25, I went through my financial awakening. It went something like this.
"I'm broke. That sucks. How do I change?"
"I need to learn about money."
"Oh wow! This isn't that hard. I think I can become a millionaire!"
"Create my millionaire plan. Avoid debt and payoff my debt ASAP. Stop wasting money. Invest like crazy."
While I'm simplifying things, these four steps allowed me to reach my goal of becoming a millionaire at age 40.
5 Building Blocks of Your Millionaire Plan
Your Financial Foundation. Debt Demolition and Spending Plan. Millionaire Key #5: Watch Your Money Millionaire Key #6: Avoid Debt Consumer debt is a complete drain on your finances and can put your net worth and assets at risk if you lose your job or have a big event in your life like a car accident, hospitalization and find yourself unable to work. I'm an anti-debt guy, but I did have a bit of consumer debt when I started my journey. After my financial awakening, I worked very quickly to pay off my $16,000 in debt. I've avoided car payments by paying cash for used cars, and I've been car payment free since 2000! If you have some consumer debt, have yourself a debt demolition. Destroy your debt before your debt destroys you!
Multiplying Your Money. You're going to work 2,000 hours or more per year for your entire life! Unless you learn to multiply your money, your work, earn, spend lifestyle will leave you with nothing to show for your hard work – master the art of multiplying your money. Your first step is to get started with your 401k or IRA. Set a goal to reach $10,000 per year investing. Once you reach that goal, raise it to $20,000 per year and work hard until you achieve that goal. Keep stretching yourself! When I first started investing, I put 30% of my income towards investing in mutual funds and stocks. 50% of my investment money went into mutual funds, and 50% went into individual stocks. For new investors, mutual funds are a safer path until you learn more. Mutual funds lower your risk. A good starter strategy for new investors would be 100% into 401k/IRA (for tax benefits) or mutual funds. As you grow your investment knowledge, consider moving towards a 75% 401k/IRA/Mutual Funds, 25% Individual stocks/other investments, and later even 50% / 50%. As you learn more about investing and increase your success and competency, adjust your strategy and plans, but make sure you're don't get trapped and start "chasing wealth." Wealth is built by following sound financial principles.
Boosting Your Income. Accelerating Your Plan. Once you have your spending plan, debt plan, and investing plan working, it's time to speed everything up. Look for new ways to increase your income. When I started my millionaire journey, I was making $39,000 a year. As part of my millionaire plan, I started looking for additional money. I did a few technology and graphic design gigs, and I worked as a Gateway computer sales guy. The extra money I earned helped me speed up my debt demolition, and it gave me a little extra investing money. Whatever you do, don't limit yourself on your income. Coming from a lower-income family, the idea of breaking the six-figure earner mark never entered my mind until I started improving my job skills and opportunities came knocking.
Setting Your Millionaire Date. Money is predictable. You might hit a few bumps on your millionaire journey, but as a whole, money behaves by set principles. You can project the year you'll become a millionaire and be relatively close. After you begin your journey, you may find ways to accelerate how fast you reach your goal, or you may suffer some setbacks. In either case, setting a date will help you stay on track. Becoming a millionaire and setting your date is based on building your net worth. You need to eliminate your debt and build your assets. To project your assets and investment growth, use 5.4% annual growth on your properties (home, etc.) and 10% growth on your investments. These two numbers are good for roughing out your millionaire plan. Once you become more sophisticated, you can change them based on your location (some properties grow slower or others faster) and the type of investments you've made. Some investments will grow at a faster rate (11+%), and if you are older, you may have moved your money into lower risk and less volatile investments (5-7% growth annually).
Review and Adjust Your Millionaire Plan Annually. I wish plans always worked out, but things often change when it comes to life. It would be best to think of your plan as more of a guide to help you reach your goal. This plan/guide gets your life and money moving in the right direction, but many things can affect your plan over time. Family circumstances can change as well as local and global economic situations.