Build a Better Financial Plan

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Last month, I shared our permanent solution for money. In that post, I shared that we have increased our overall net worth by $27,515 and reduced our overall debt by $13,679 in six short months.

I shared our plan one year after beginning. The first three months were awful. I doubted our plan, I couldn’t see our progress, and I was not convinced we were making the right choices.

After six months, we reflected on what we were doing and made a few changes to our design, which ultimately allowed us to increase our net worth by $27,515 in 6 short months.

LESSONS IN FINANCIAL DESIGN

Extra payments need to be treated like bills. During those first six months I was doubting our design because we were still struggling to follow through. We had created an environment where are basic bills were doing the work for us, but those extra payments were our responsibility. It was far too easy to use that money for something else when it wasn’t being applied automatically.

Our change: All of the money that was to be used for an extra debt payment was transferred with the rest of our money for bills.

Track your progress. I learned there is a fine balance between tracking your progress and obsessing over it. On any given weekend, you could find me analyzing our net worth spreadsheet and suggesting changes to our design. I needed to trust our plan. We would never be able to track success if we were constantly making changes. Now, we measure our progress biannually. We use the spreadsheet below to measure changes and track our progress. I’ve included this as a free link below.

Net Worth Spreadsheet

Our change: We began monitoring our net worth as a measure of progress every six months.

Create a picture: We needed something to look at to understand our situation. Take our mortgage for example, we have a 30 year mortgage. That sounds average. We created a picture by mapping out what that really meant.

In our situation, that meant we would have been tied to that payment until 2040 if we never made additional payments. Since our goal is debt repayment, we created this picture for each of our debts and calculated how additional payments would affect our picture in 5 years. This allowed us to see what our financial design could do for us. So now, instead of looking at 2040 as the end date for our mortgage, we’re looking at 2018, and that feels very different. You can find a great template for this here.

Ideally, this would be something that would be done during your initial planning for our financial design; however, we had to pay off some credit cards, which we both agreed were a priority. We used that time to create a picture and plan for the rest of our debts.

Our change: We created an Excel workbook that created a realistic picture of what we would be connected to and for how long. This put everything into perspective.

 

I like to believe we all secretly want a small cabin in the woods with unlimited WiFi, and that is going to take a little bit of cash. Our lifestyle is about sustainability, and for us, a large piece of that includes financial sustainability.

Cabin in the Woods

 

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