Financial Planning: When And Where To Start?


I only started planning my finances five years ago. And whenever I think about it, I wish I had started earlier. I never thought I needed a plan until I experienced being flat-broke. In a way, I am thankful for the experience because I now see the value of financial planning.

Having a sound financial plan is one of the keys to building a successful family. In this post, we will answer two of the most asked questions in financial planning:

  • When To Start Financial Planning?
  • Where to Start Financial Planning?

Disclaimer: the content of this post is based on the author’s opinions. It does not intend to give professional advice.

Baby boy with green dog shirt.
The picture of my eldest child when he was three months old. He’s my starting point. I got serious about making my finances straight because of him.

When To Start Financial Planning?

Financial planning should begin as early as possible. A good rule of thumb is when you start earning money. But planning your finances before you even get your first paycheck is an enormous advantage since wealth building takes time. The earlier you start thinking and preparing for your financial future, the better.

In my previous post, I shared a profound lesson I learned from the book, Flipping Burgers to Flipping Millions by Bernard Kelly. He showed how crucial time is in building wealth. Say you make $900 and plan to save 10% every month. Now let us do the math. 10% of $900 is $90. If you invested that amount at a rate of 10 percent annually at age 20, this is what it could grow into when you reach 60 (estimated):

  • Age 21 = $1,131 (Php 63,336)
  • Age 22 = $2,380 (Php 133,280)
  • Age 25 = $6,969 (Php 390,264)
  • Age 30 = $18,436 (Php 1,032,416)
  • Age 35 = $37,302 (Php 2,088,912)
  • Age 50 = $203,444 (Php 11,392,864)
  • Age 60 = $569,167 (Php 31,873,352)

What if you also saved 10% of all the money you received five years ago? From the date of this writing, my children are 5 and 3. They obviously cannot plan for themselves financially. As trying-hard proactive parents, my wife and I desire to give them a headstart. We started financial planning on their behalf. As early as now, we have already invested all the money they receive as gifts in mutual funds. If you are also a parent and are unsure how to handle your children’s finances, I highly recommend you check out this post: What To Do With My Child’s Money? Here Are 5 Ideas.

Where To Start Financial Planning?

Financial planning must start with financial literacy. Educating yourself about money is the most essential step in financial planning. It gives you a solid foundation whether you intend to plan your own finances or hire a planner. Learning how money work builds your confidence in creating a sound financial plan.

Being financially literate means understanding basic money behavior and the skills you need to manage them well. This comprises the comprehension of certain financial concepts like:

  • the time value of money
  • risks
  • inflation
  • and compound interests.

At the same time, being able to practice and utilize fundamental money management techniques such as:

  • banking
  • budgeting
  • and investing.
new parents and son in green.
Joab was born prematurely. He came out at 35 weeks and 5 days. Praise God that there were no issues. We were discharged after two nights. Thank God also for His provision. We managed to save enough money to pay the hospital bills without relying on credit cards.

How Do You Educate Yourself Financially?

Financial education is not taught in schools. Thus, you have to put personal effort into making yourself financially literate. Educating yourself about money is tricky because there are generally no sure-fire ways of handling finances. The method that works for one person does not guarantee it will also work for the other.

This is due to the many variables in play, like location and profession. Sound financial management differs between a person who lives in the United States and one who resides in South Africa. The same goes for a business owner who does not have a standard monthly pay and an employee who does. In essence, the best approach is to study the core principles of money and discover the system that will work for you. Here are the 5 ways you can educate yourself financially:

Books

The first book I read on financial management is Rich Dad Poor Dad. Though the author, Robert Kiyosaki, received numerous controversies throughout his career, this book is one of the books I recommend for beginners. From there, I simply followed the title he mentioned in his book, like:

  • The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • and The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley

These books literally changed my financial life. Thus far, I may have already read more than fifty books about money. Here are three more titles I can recommend:

Classes

Besides reading, I also enroll in several financial classes locally and online. I attended my friend Randell Tiongson’s yearly Investment Conference (iCon) together with Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Summit. As a follower of Christ, I also immerse myself in sermons about money, courtesy of Pastor Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch. You can check the Money Matters Playlist I made on YouTube if you want to check them out. If you like to collect certificates for your studies, Coursera offers excellent Financial Management courses:

Podcasts

Always on the road? Don’t let that hinder you from learning finance. You can listen to audiobooks or podcasts while commuting. Three podcast channels related to money and possessions I listen to the most:

  • Ramsey’s Everyday Millionaires
  • We Study Billionaires – The Investor’s Podcast Network
  • The Minimalists

Mentors

There are two people who I go to whenever I need business and financial advice. How about you? Having these people whom you can trust and respect is an indispensable asset. They are the ones who can give you honest feedback that’s tailored to your current situation. If you don’t have at least one person, perhaps you can browse through your circle and list the names of people you can treat as mentors. Call and set a coffee date with them.

Practice

As mentioned earlier, you must discover the appropriate financial plan for you. Aside from the dissimilarity of situations, no one really understands and cares for your money more than you do. That’s why you should personally plan for your finances – even if you hired a financial planner. Financial planners are there to guide you, but it’s you who is ultimately responsible for your own money. Here are 8 financial practices you can apply today:

  1. Saving 10 to 20 percent of your income in a high-interest savings account.
  2. Tracking your cash inflow and outflow.
  3. Controlling your expenses.
  4. Investing.
  5. Managing risks.
  6. Utilizing the available resources.
  7. Improving your income.
  8. Developing your financial literacy.
brother and sister selfie.
Time flies. He now takes selfies with his sister.

Unchanging Money Laws

Before I close this post, I do not want to leave you with the thought that financial planning is like building a house on sand. While the landscape is ever-changing, there are universal and unchanging laws of money where we can mound our plans:

  1. Time value of money: The best time to start investing was ten years ago. The next best time is today. Money grows over time.
  2. Risks are always present: There is no such thing as a guaranteed return. Check your risk appetite. Are you more comfortable with low-risk, low return? Or high-risk, high return?
  3. Inflation: Goods will be more expensive next year. Bank on it.
  4. Money is a tool: Money is neither good nor bad. It performs based on the skill of the user.
  5. We are managers, not owners: There will come a time when we must surrender all the money we made in our lifetime to the next generation. We do not own our money. We are only managing it.

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Jed Chan

Jed is trained by The World Needs A Father movement, and has been a full-time, work-at-home husband and dad since 2017. He is an internet entrepreneur, a blogger, an investor, a small group leader, an avid reader, and a former financial consultant. He currently lives somewhere in the mountains of Cavite, Philippines, enjoying his time as a father.

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