Take Control of Your Financial Future
03 Feb 2017
One of the most overlooked aspects of retirement planning is simply understanding the difference between what you can control, and what you cannot. This is sometimes one of the most difficult things to assess as well. The easiest way to figure out if items go in the “control” or “not control” columns is to figure out where you fit into the equation.
What Can’t I Control?
A lot of these are pretty easy to spot. I don’t have any control over what the markets are going to do. They will move up or down not based on my influence or any specific action that I take. I am willing to bet you don’t either unless you are Warren Buffet. (If that is case, Hi Warren!) Elections occur regardless if we become involved in the process or not. Terrorist attacks occur without our input. Management teams may make decisions that put the future of a business in peril. New technologies develop that disrupt entire industries. There are a huge myriad of circumstances that cannot be controlled or directly influenced by us. The good news for us is that because we can’t control them, we should not allow them to control us.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see as a financial advisor is people allowing outside circumstances to totally dictate their financial decisions, or worse yet, cause them to do nothing! External factors should be taken into consideration. The danger is when they are used as excuses to do nothing.
What Can I Control?
So what is the answer? Focus on the things that you can control. While it may not be easy, this is where self discipline and self reflection really show their worth. Determining your personal fair rate of return goal is one of the best starting points. Ensure your return is reasonable to your personal situation as well as your personal risk tolerance. Build your portfolio to achieve your return goal and set yourself on autopilot. Determine the amount that you need to save to reach your goal. Stick to your portfolio through the ups and downs and periodically review to ensure that you are staying on track. All of these things are firmly within the “I can affect the outcome” column. None of these rely on someone else passing legislation or sprinkling fairy dust to improve the outcome!
Chaos is all around us. I think we can simply take a look outside our window, turn on the nightly news, or simply check our Twitter feed to see the evidence. This being said, there are still plenty of aspects of our financial lives in which we do have control. The difference between losing control and maintaining it is as simple as building a plan.