Jump Start Your 2011 Financial Plan

On the Money Tips for Planning Ahead Now

Does the idea of starting to plan – now – for 2011 send chills down your spine?  Relax – our Fab & Fru friend Pat Chiappa is here to help.  She has written a guide called Year Ahead/Year in Review: A Couples Guide to Dream Big, Plan Smart and Live Well which makes this daunting process easy — and even enjoyable!  And don’t let the title fool you – it is great for the single girl too!

Pat admits that she is not exactly reinventing the wheel by suggesting that you actually write down and review your financial plan, but let’s be honest - How many of us actually do this on a regular basis? 

While the concept of YA/YR is fairly basic, Pat’s approach to finance is not. Rather than view financial planning as a chore, she views it as an empowering tool to help you turn your dreams into reality.  It’s about focusing on what you want and how you will get there, much more so than focusing on what you don’t have! The YA/YR approach to planning, “is all about self improvement – but without the guilt you might feel when you fall short of your goals!”

Get Started!

According to Pat, just by writing down your financial goals, dreams and YOUR reality, you:

  1. Learn how to dream
  2. Learn the value & power of writing down intentions and plans
  3. See the absolute importance of incorporating finances into your life map

Pat and her husband, Mark Zaifman of Spiritus Financial have been using the YA/YR method in their own lives for 20 years.  Enough friends and family kept asking them what their secret was to attaining their goals, so Pat decided to put pen to paper and created an actual guide.

Best of all, Pat’s guide doesn’t require you to sign up for pricey seminars or products.  All you really need to get started is: a blank notebook, a highlighter a couple pens, a calendar and an accordion file – oh and yes- you will need to have your financial records nearby to refer to!

Here are the categories you’ll be focusing on when planning your Year Ahead:

  • Travel
  • Day Trips Projects
  • Personal Goals & Dreams
  • Purchases
  • New Things to Try
  • Financial Goals

You simply go through the calendar and plan out month by month what you would like to accomplish and estimate the costs.  However, before you can focus on living the life you really WANT, you MUST take a good look at the life you currently live – which means keeping track of your monthly household budget for a few months before you can start planning ahead!

Why NOW is the Perfect Time to Start Planning for 2011

Ok, maybe you’re not so psyched about the idea of keeping track of your household budget for the next few months – but think of it this way…  If you start the process now, by the time the new year rolls around, you will be armed with the info you need to begin your ‘Year Ahead’ plan.

You can find examples of budget and goal planning templates on Pat’s website, but remember to customize it for yourself – the specific financial realities of your alpaca farm might be far different than your Manhattan dwelling friends!

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3 Responses to “Jump Start Your 2011 Financial Plan”

  1. Denise says:

    Great idea! We’re almost upon the 4th quarter of the year – when I usually start planning for the next year. Will definitely check out Pat’s website!

  2. While I must admit that I have not yet read my good friend’s book, I know from years of conversations what her philosophy is. I know that she and her husband Mark fully enjoy their lives and forego that $5 latte and eating lunch out on a regular basis in order to treat themselves to beautiful and fulfilling adventures around the country.

    What I have learned from Pat and Mark is that in order to enjoy your big dreams, you need to be very conscious about what you are spending or in many cases, frittering away on a daily basis.

    It seems like there is a parallel to what a friend said to me years ago — “You can do anything, you just can’t do EVERYTHING.”

    Pat and Mark’s philosophy seems to be centered around identifying what is a priority in your life and funneling all of your attention, consciousness and funds toward what you really want –instead of allowing your dreams to evaporate by indulging in daily quick fixes that often leave you broke and going in circles.

    Pat has a powerful message to share.

  3. Linda says:

    Over the years we never really sat down and wrote out a budget. Just always made sure that all bills were paid as they came in and didn’t over spend with money we didn’t have. Now after 40 years of marriage, the kids grown and retirement three years away we’re examining our needs, budget and dreams for our future. Year Ahead/ Year in Review was very helpful in showing us how to keep tract and plan for our future by breaking down household expenses and seeing exactly what we could be saving on a weekly basis. Pat’s book is very helpful and gives good suggestions for mapping out a monthly household budget. This will be helpful in looking ahead for a comfortable retirement after working hard for so many years.

Any Thoughts?