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Financial goals getting lost in the busy-ness of life?

This time of year, the buzz of RRSP’s (Registered Retirement Savings Plans), TFSA’s (Tax Free Savings Accounts) and the investment season can create stress for those who have not stopped to look at their financial plans. If you feel like your financial goals have become lost in the busy-ness of your life, you are not alone.  

Between work, family, spouses, children, friends, volunteering, etc. it seems our busy-ness is central to how we live our lives.  This is especially true for those immersed in the years of growing kids.   Although many of us strive to learn the art of becoming un-busy, most of us struggle. 

We are bombarded by the many things we feel we should do.  So many ‘should do’ pressures scream for our attention daily;  I ‘should’ get exercise, be at kids activities, make an appearance at events, volunteer in the community, plan family vacations, keep the house clean, make homemade meals, get to the dentist, the list goes on. 

No wonder we talk about how busy we are!

If you feel like your financial goals have become lost in the busy-ness of your life, you are not alone.  

And let’s not forget; we should create and review our financial plans.  Unfortunately, with other things demanding our time, financial plans can fall to the bottom of the list.  The repercussions of this may not be realized until years down the road.

Many people have been swept away with the busy-ness of life as their financial play lay dormant for years.  Their stories go something like this:

“We were going to save money before we had kids but with the new house we didn’t get to it.  We hoped to set up an education plan but life got too busy.  We meant to contribute to an RSP but the deadline came and went and we vowed to do it next year - again.  Now post-secondary costs are on the horizon, and we haven’t thought about retirement yet.  We don’t know how we let it get this far.”

As a good financial planner I should tell you all the reasons why you need to stop everything you are doing and make a financial plan right away.   Chances are, you already agree in theory and the reasons are probably obvious to you. However, I recognize this can be easier said than done.

If you are amidst the busy-ness of life right now, and you are struggling to find the time, here is my advice to you.  Focus on taking the first step.  You don’t need to commit to a full financial plan this minute.  But do take a first step if nothing else. Get started with some regular savings from your bank account to invest weekly or monthly.  

One step in the right direction is better than nothing at all.   

Sometimes the thought of climbing the mountain seems overwhelming but the thought of taking a step is manageable.  

At the very least, if you get a regular savings plan started, you build yourself the ability to go on ‘auto-pilot’ for a while. It is better to set up an automatic savings plan now and let it do some work for you until you can tend to it properly.

As a back-up plan to a busy life, I would rather be on autopilot for a while than still be at the starting line.

It may not be ideal, but it is a big step in the right direction.   For people who do this, here is how their story changes: 

“We started $200/month RSP and TFSA when we were married, and then added $50/month education savings when the kids came along.  We haven’t done much since then, we were just so busy.  I can’t believe how fast these years went by.  I’m sure we have some catching up to do but I’m glad we started saving when we did.” 

These people are in a much better position than their counterparts.  It is far better to set up regular savings, and let it accumulate while you focus on the rest of your life day to day than to do nothing at all.  You’ll be in a much better position when you get around to revisiting it.

It’s amazing how fast these middle years go by. As a back-up plan to a busy life, I would rather be on autopilot for a while than still be at the starting line.

Making money in a volatile market.  Let dollar cost averaging do the work.

Stephanie Farrow, BA., CFP., Stephanie has over 26 years' experience in the financial services industry, a diploma in Financial Planning from the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning and Certified Financial Planner designation.  Stephanie has been writing a financial column for local business magazine Elgin This Month/This Month in Elgin since 2010.  Stephanie and her husband own Farrow Financial Services Inc.  About our Farrow Financial Team.

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