By the time you’ve reached mid-career (the generally early 40s), a lot of change has happened in your world. There have been marriages, perhaps divorces, kids, several different jobs, some accrual of assets, both for long-term and short-term goals, and usually you’ve picked up a bit of debt—home loans, car loans, etc.
In early career, the primary issues for financial development are usually paying down debt of some kind and determining savings rate. In many cases, these carry into mid-career in some way but are now a part of a larger framework. Increasingly the larger issue by this point is organization. Having an organized perspective on your financial goals and a systemic way to organize your assets and debts is critical to be able to increase the likelihood of reaching your goals.
The first step here is to organize your goals. If you are married or have a long-term significant other, this is particularly critical. We generally encourage clients to focus on 3-4 key financial goals. These goals should have a time horizon and clear plan for achievement. And because they are the key goals for you and your family there should be fairly universal agreement on the list and the prioritization.
Think if it like arranging a dinner party for friends. You first need to decide who is coming, what to serve, and how much it will cost. Then you can start picking out key “recipes” (financial strategies) to bring this party into being. Financial independence, the day work becomes an option, is usually the biggest party any of our clients will ever throw. It lasts the longest, is the most expensive, has the most people involved and you can’t run out of shrimp cocktail at the end.
Your financial organization must move beyond big dreams and contain a personal balance sheet. This single source of accounting of all of your assets and liabilities allows you to clearly see where you currently stand and allow you to better forecast what your financial situation will look like in future years. Do not get discouraged if you are not as far along financially as you thought you were. Many people focus more on their assets and less on their debt which gives a false impression of being in better financial standing. Whatever your situation, it is important to know where you really stand. It is important that your personal balance sheet be accurate, so be sure to include all of your assets and accounts, taxable and tax-deferred, as well as all of your debt and liabilities. Consider your vehicles, furnishings, clothing, jewelry, etc. Your debt should include all the items that you owe, such as your home mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, school loans, interest-free loans, etc. Once you have developed and updated your personal balance sheet for several quarters, you will begin to get a feel for the pace of your progress. You will then be able to better estimate when you will be able to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Many people find such a thorough organization of their financial information daunting. Trilogy advisors are equipped with advanced technology and tools which can help you aggregate your goals and your balance sheet all in one place, even to the point of being able to project the probability of success of your various goals. As you move through your career, the ability to keep your goals and financial plan organized becomes increasingly challenging. Let us come along side you as you travel to your next destination.