What Pine Needles Have To Do With Good Financial Planning

Happy New Year!

And just like that, the festive period is over. The garish decorations have resumed 11 months of hibernation.

By now I’m sure you’ve tucked away the tinsel, broken many a bauble and chucked the Christmas tree out of the living room window in a desperate bid to avoid your home being littered with those pesky pine needles. I know I’m still standing on them every morning when I get up, no matter how thorough I thought my hoovering was (!)…

Let’s face it, those pine needles are going to be there for the year; a constant, daily reminder of Mariah Carey, dry turkey and family board game tensions.

But what has this got to do with your finances I hear you ask?

Well I didn’t want my first email of 2024 to be yet another New Year’s Resolution list.

Spend less, save more, invest wisely… yawn, yawn, yawn 🥱

I’m sure you’ve already had those emails, and I’m also pretty sure you deleted them straight away.

Those boring lists doesn’t excite or motivate me with my finances and I eat, sleep and breath financial planning (for my sins).

Let’s face it, most New Year’s Resolutions flop.

We set unattainable targets and by mid-January we’ve already tired of our new gym memberships, decided that conversational French isn’t worth the heartache and we’ve reverted to our old Christmas ways of inhaling three mince pies on the bounce.

Resolutions regarding your finances are the same.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that this time of year is when people are most financially engaged and determined to get on top of their finances. That’s always nice to see.

But keep your resolutions manageable and incentivising.

The best way to get on top of your financial planning is to do little and often.

Think less New Year’s Resolution bucket list, and more pine needles spread throughout the year (see, you didn’t think I would manage to get a pine needle analogy back into this did you 😉…)

All those tiny pine needles add up to make a beautiful Christmas tree.

And the same should apply with your financial planning; lots of small, controllable actions that build up to form a robust and rewarding financial plan.

Of course, where you are on your financial journey should determine what your financial priorities should be.

We all have different goals, aspirations and apprehensions when it comes to our money.

Tackling all of these head on in January becomes overwhelming, disengaging and disillusioning. Is it any wonder why we don’t stick to the plan?

If you really want to make a positive start this year, then my advice is to first of all to work out which area is causing you the greatest financial anxiety.

What’s keeping you up at night?

Are you worried you don’t have enough tucked away in short term savings for emergency expenses?

Perhaps you don’t have a grasp of your pensions and are concerned that retirement is fast approaching you, but you’re not ready for it.

Are you worried about what’s happening in the investment world and whether your portfolio is going to crash overnight (spoiler on this one – you shouldn’t be!)?

Perhaps you’re financially ‘okay’ and want to help out your nearest and dearest, but you’re not sure how much you can afford to gift away.

This will be totally personal to you, your life, and your aspirations.

But rather than throwing the whole kitchen sink at your financial planning on January 1st (hmm maybe January 2nd), instead focus on tackling only one or two areas and set manageable expectations and goals for these.

Goals you can actually achieve.

Remember what I said. It’s little and often that adds up and truly makes a difference.

If you spread these goals throughout the year (pine needles anyone?!) then all of a sudden they don’t seem quite so insurmountable, quite so daunting and quite so easy to fall back on.

Happy January!


Benjamin Mitchell

Benjamin Mitchell

I’m a chartered financial planner that can help you plan for tomorrow and also live for today.

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