Setting Personal and Family Wealth Goals

  • A lack of financial priorities may lead to overspending, leaving too little money to cover expenses and savings.
  • Seeking help from a trusted and competent Financial Advisor can show you’re not alone on your financial journey.
  • Having a formal plan, such as an Envision® plan, may be the best way to help you save and keep you on track toward your financial goals.

Setting the foundation for your financial plans

There’s a Finnish quote, “Happiness is the place between too little and too much.” In our culture that’s so driven by having more, no matter what we already have, this can be a smart and helpful bit of advice. For families just starting to plan their financial priorities, budgeting can be a balancing act: paying bills, saving wisely in the event of emergencies, and investing in anticipation of children’s college tuition or your own retirement.

Setting goals is critical to your financial wellbeing, and it starts with introspection and questions.

The desire for more “stuff” actually contributes to a financial bind for many families. According to, roughly two of three Americans would struggle to raise $1,000 in cash for an emergency expense. In many cases, a lack of financial priorities leads to overspending, leaving too little money to cover expenses and savings. As a result, many have little choice but to continue working into their retirement years.

For most Americans, however, retirement will span three decades — and that key thought should be near the forefront of your planning efforts.

Start by planning your journey

Everyone should avoid the temptation to plow ahead with no plan, possibly because they think they don’t earn enough to save or because poor decisions have left their finances in such turmoil that they don’t want others, including family members, to know. You should never be embarrassed about what you make or the situation you are in. It might surprise people to know how many others are in situations similar to theirs.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Seeking help from a trusted Financial Advisor can help build your confidence, and most important, show you that you’re not alone on your financial journey.

Set goals, ask the right questions, and find someone to help you

An infographic that says Family Wealth Goals. Balancing your financial responsibility can be difficult. Having a formal plan can help keep on track toward your financial goals. Plan, Save, Build

Setting goals is critical to your financial wellbeing, and it starts with introspection and questions. For example, would you love to work into old age or do you want to retire early? Would you like to start a second career or own a business? How will you financially provide for your children’s college education? Is your dream house a near or distant possibility?

At the heart of having an investment plan for your future is figuring out exactly what you want to achieve. In determining your investment goals, there are several questions that can help you and your Financial Advisor develop an appropriate investment plan.

  • First, how long can you invest your money?
  • Second, how comfortable can you be with up and down movements in the value of your investments?
  • Third, how much ready cash do you need to meet unexpected emergencies or expenses?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you and your Financial Advisor can begin to weigh the three primary investment goals — growth, income, and stability or protection of principal — to determine how to select specific investments that are appropriate for your investment plan.

Move saving up your priorities list

Typically when we budget, we budget all of the required obligations that we have — mortgages, car loans, utilities — and then we budget our spending. And whatever is left over, which is often nothing, is what we save. Re–order your list (and priorities): pay required household bills and then budget your savings, moving nonessentials to the bottom of the list.

Smart planning starts with a simple principle: Pay yourself first.

Save systematically to take advantage of compound growth. As a hypothetical example, Sally, age 23, invests $5,500 a year for 10 years in a Traditional IRA. At age 65, her investment will be worth $363,418, based on a consistent return of 5%. By contrast, David starts funding his Traditional IRA at age 40, putting in a total of $143,000 over 26 years until he's 65. His investment will be worth $295,180 — about $68,000 less than Sally earned even though she invested $88,000 less.

A small amount can be huge here, even if you are saving $10 a week or $50 a month or $200 a month. Doing so is more reliable that hoping for an inheritance from your parents, who may incur unexpected medical bills or give their money to someone else. And the odds of being able to afford those saving levels are better than winning the lottery.

Next steps

  • Drop any insecurity about not having an investment plan for the future and immediately start saving more.
  • Specifically define what your financial success will look like.
  • Talk with a Financial Advisor about your goals.
  • Request a formal investment plan such as an Envision® plan.

Envision is a registered service mark of Wells Fargo & Company and is used under license.

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